Ahyoung Yoo reflects on first year as lecturer in art, Asian studies

Photo Courtesy of Ahyoung Yoo

This year, Lewis & Clark welcomed Ahyoung Yoo as a lecturer of art history and Asian studies. After completing her Ph.D. in art history at Ohio State University, she and her husband moved to Portland where she has resided for several years. Yoo was offered a position at LC after being in touch with Associate Professor of Art History Dawn Odell. 

“When I heard about this new opportunity to teach, not just art history but also Korean culture, I thought this would be wonderful and this would be perfect for my research interests,” Yoo said.

As a student and researcher, Yoo studied new media art, focusing primarily on works created by Korean and Korean-American artists, and she often brings this expertise into her classes. 

“I’m interested in looking into the body and especially … the way that it is racialized even in our cyberspace and the digital sphere,” Yoo said. “There tends to be this thought that … we live in a post-race world. And we know how that’s not true, right? With the Black Lives Matter movement, and the current rise in hate crimes against Asian Americans, we know how the body is at the center of one’s identity.” 

Yoo has taught three courses at LC, using her combined knowledge of art history, new media and contemporary art, and Asian studies. 

“The first class I taught was Early East Asian Art, and that is quite broad in scope — starting from the ancient all the way to the 16th century covering China, Japan and Korea,” Yoo said. “This semester I am teaching Contemporary Korean Culture, and that course looks into mainly visual culture, including pop, music videos, K-Pop, but also art, film, YouTube … and production that is made in Korea and beyond. The other class that I am currently teaching is Art After 1945, which is focusing on modern and contemporary art with a global perspective.” 

While Yoo has only had the capacity to teach her courses online, she is incredibly impressed with the students she has had in her classes and their ability to stay focused during these turbulent times. 

“I have actually stressed this multiple times to other professors in the department: I am really impressed by how serious and sincere the students that I taught were given the circumstances,” Yoo said. “It feels like it is kind of in the atmosphere (at LC)  … we respect learning and what it means, we believe there is meaning in learning.” 

Yoo expressed how important LC students have been to her teaching experience this year. 

“I feel that it is a privilege to be teaching at Lewis & Clark, to be forming these relationships with students and see them actually grow,” Yoo said. “Quite frankly, I learn a lot from my students too … because I teach art history, we have a lot of discussions so I also learn about how other people see and process things.” 

While Yoo has greatly enjoyed her time at LC, her future employment with the college is uncertain. 

“My position is not a tenure position, so most likely this is my last semester here at Lewis & Clark,” Yoo said. “I feel grateful that I met some of the students here and I do truly appreciate that I was given a chance to interact with these students. I want them to know that, even though I might not say this to everyone who was, or is, in my class, these encounters matter to me as well and I learned a lot from the students.”  

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