Sally Chung | April 2016

Hometown: Los Angeles, California

Major: Fine Arts

Minor: Visual and Performing Arts Education


Q: A little background about you: Name, Hometown, degree major, year of graduation (or year of study if you are not a graduate yet) and the type of arts that you focus on.

A: Sally Chung, born and raised in Los Angeles, CA. I graduated 2015 from UCLA with a major in Fine Arts and a minor in Arts Education. I currently am making a lot of ink drawings that pull from my personal life as well as my background as a Korean American woman growing up in the states. 

Q: How did you discover your interest in the arts and how did you know that it was something that you wanted to pursue professionally, as an artist or as an artist teacher?

A: I was fortunate enough to attend a lot of summer art camps in high school where I had numerous art teachers in all backgrounds show me that there’s a viable career you can hold doing what you love. All of them showed me nothing but encouragement and I only have them to thank for transforming a simple hobby since youth into a passion I felt was necessary to pursue. The fine artmaking process was the only thing I felt was personal to me, as I come from a large family that pursues many different artistic talents. When it came around to applying to college it just felt like the most natural thing to do.

Q: Describe what the young artists in your VAPAE studio sessions are working on and the process they’re using.

A: Currently at Emerson Middle School we’ve been focusing on the 3Dimensional art making space. We’ve been equipping the students with sculptural materials including cardboard, recycled bottles, misc. household items, and paper-mache to propel their artistic visions on a somewhat grander and larger scheme. They’ve been running with it since day one and i’m so proud of their enthusiasm and their talents. I also teach at St. Thomas Elementary School and we’ve been trying to hone their painting skills by working on Frida Kahlo inspired self portraits. Each student’s style of drawing really shines and I’m trying to assure them that there is definitely no one right way to draw or paint! 

Q: Why is an enrichment opportunity like this important for those participating? What do they gain?

A: I feel like having art education programs for young children is such an overlooked important resource. I have so many students come up to me and tell me that artmaking is the only time they feel like they can rest from the stresses of school, or that artmaking is the one thing that makes them feel that they are good at something. Art is something anyone can do which is why I feel its so important and encouraging for the growth of a child who is still developing their sense of identity and confidence in such a confusing emotional world that is growing up in the public school system. It’s an opportunity to allow young students to express themselves which is a push towards individuality that they may not get enough in certain schools that require uniforms or a rigid adherence to a curriculum that they may have no interest in. 

Q: Did you have an opportunity like this when you were a younger artist? If yes, how did it help shape your love of art? If no, in what ways could a program like this have helped you?

A: I fortunately had a lot of art classes growing up in elementary all the way to high school. High school was especially amazing because the public school that I went to, Cleveland Humanities High School had a ceramics and a photography classroom. Working around the kiln to make ceramic projects and having a darkroom to make prints to call your own really take art making to the next level in terms of being exposed to mediums in art you wouldn’t be able to normally access. My curriculum in high school also made sure artmaking was a part of every unit as my teachers were extremely concerned about having a well rounded learning experience. I can’t imagine having gone through any of my kindergarten - high school education without having an art portion included somewhere in the curriculum. It’s sad to hear of funding being lost or having to consolidate art classes as they were such a key part in allowing me to pursue my career in the arts as an adult. 

Q: What has this experience as a teaching artist or arts facilitator taught you about yourself?

A: It has taught me a lot! Teaching young children requires so much love and patience and I never saw myself first as a teacher figure, but I’ve learned that there is no right way to teach a class. I appreciate and care for my students so much and have found my own way to have a symbiotic relationship where there is mutual respect and we can talk and work together as teacher and student. I also wasn’t expecting to be so personally invested in over 40 students and all their ways of art making but it’s been such a joy getting to know these large personalities and having the privilege to converse with them about their personal art making endeavors. 

Q: What do you personal gain as a teaching artist, arts facilitator?

A: Personally I think teaching younger students has given me a lot of optimism about artmaking, what art is, what art looks like, etc. It has boosted my motivation to be more proactive about my own artmaking practice and that’s a priceless thing that you usually can’t pinpoint to have one source. My students help me make art as much as I am equipping them to embrace their talents.

Q: What are the benefits to you as a student/graduate in the UCLA VAPAE program? Was this program a good choice for you? If so, why?

A: VAPAE has benefitted my life greatly. If it weren’t for the sequence I had randomly decided to participate in on a whim, I wouldn’t have even considered teaching in the arts. VAPAE has a lot of really truly motivated teachers that showed me the full potential and impact being a teacher can have and I have personally benefitted from the temperament and teachings of a lot of VAPAE instructors in my personal life as well. The VAPAE program also showed me how important it is to go back to the youth as a artist myself. I would’ve never thought about being in the same shoes my previous art instructors have been in as much as an integral part they held in shaping my own artistic passions without going through VAPAE. 

Q: Are there any anecdotes from your VAPAE Studio Sessions (or Arts Education Teaching Sequence) that stand out to you? Perhaps you had a break‐through with a student or saw some particularly noticeable growth in that student through this program, collaboration etc. Maybe something surprised you or made you think about art or teaching in a new way.

A: I feel like it’s a combination of interactions with students that have really made me think twice about the huge impact and importance instructing art classes for the youth have been. I work with a lot of underprivileged students where artmaking isn’t necessarily the highest priority at home. Having students come up to me and tell me they’re so glad to have something so simple as a paper journal or access to markers and paints breaks my heart. It puts things in perspective and pushes me towards catering curriculum in a manner where things can be reclaimed or teach in a manner where the trivial problems in the classroom are forgotten when I remember how awesome it is to be able to do this for the students. I also have a student who said he endured a lot of bullying from his peers for being out of the ordinary which appalled me! However I learned that studio sessions is an amazing space he’s allowed to have where his weirdness is encouraged and being able to be there for him as an older figure it is my pleasure to let him know that the only thing he needs to do is embrace his individuality. He was formally a quieter student who didn’t make much conversation so to see him open up and readily come towards us with his big artistic plans and his enthusiasm over the year is such a privilege.  

Q: What are your short-term and long‐term career goals?

A: Both my short-term/long-term career goals for now involve continuing to teach for VAPAE Studio Sessions <3! And working on establishing my freelance design/illustrative career. I hope to be able to live off my freelance career at some point in the next couple of years but until then I wouldn’t have it any other way being able to work with the youth and having ridiculous amounts of fun along the way.