2014 MFA Thesis

John Seung Hwan Lee

The process of my work evolves around the cultural participations and experiences and bringing them into my studio as well as bringing my studio experiences out to the different social environments. I believe that it is extremely important to participate in communities with the physical presence rather than to observe from a distance, strengthening locality. The technological advancement of communication has provided many benefits; however, effects of the kind of remoteness from the physical presence extend beyond intimate social relationships to economic and political transparency.

As an artist with Korean heritage, I am influenced by the anarchic holist aspect of Eastern philosophy and religion, such as Taoism and Zen-Buddhism. In reflection of anarchic holism, many artists of ancient East Asia pursued inter-disciplinary between poem, calligraphy, and music, commonly known as poong-ryoo-do or fengliu refinement. Poong-ryoo-do is a philosophy I very much embrace.

Since my training in martial arts and b-boying, my interest lies in the awareness of one’s body, its energy, movement, and relationship among each other in collectivity. My work provides new perspectives towards human body in motion in different contexts of ever changing world through inter-disciplinary practice of performance, video, and painting.

Although born in Texas in 1987, Lee spent his childhood from 1990 to 2002 in South Korea. Struck by multicultural experiences and identity confusion at Midland School, a small, co-ed college preparatory boarding school based on a rural community reliant only on the work of its inhabitants to meet its basic needs, Lee took his first taekwondo lesson in the summer of 2004 while visiting his family in South Korea. Lee received his BFA from Alfred University with concentration in painting and glassblowing. With lack of exposure to martial arts dojo and urban dance culture, he moved to New York City after receiving his BFA. Lee is an award winner of AHL Foundation Visual Arts Competition 2014 and a MFA graduate of 2014 at Parsons Fine Arts.

His work has been shown in group exhibitions of CATM Chelsea Gallery and Rush Arts Gallery, a solo exhibition at Michael Mut Gallery, Fountain Art Fair and Scope Art Fair through Rush Arts Gallery.


John Lee / Still from Body Calligraphy - Flow / 2012 / Video, Acrylic on Paper / 16:9

John Lee / Still from Body Calligraphy - Form / 2012 / Video / 16:9

John Lee / Still from Body Calligraphy - Migration / 2013 / Video, Body in Spandex / 16:9

John Lee / Still from Body Calligraphy - Discipline / 2013 / Video, Acrylic on Canvas / 16:9

John Lee / Still from Breakin' POPS / 2013 / Video / 16:9