Article from Korea Times, 04/30/10
Hello! I have recently been interviewed by Korea Times on my career as an Art Therapist/Artist.
It has been a fascinating experience collaborating with the Korean community. I am very excited for my weekly column that I will be writing about mental health!
Healing the Wounded Soul through Art
Interview with Yoona Lim, an art therapist at Counseling Center of Lakeview, Chicago, IL
Yoona Lim, an art therapist who helps revive the wounded souls through art therapy is drawing an interest from a Korean community in Chicago, IL. Lim (26), a 2009 graduate of the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, with a Master’s degree in Art Therapy, has been paving her career path as an art therapist at Counseling Center of Lakeview. She introduces herself as an “advocate” who actively promotes art therapy.
Lim recalls her first encounter with art as her middle school years in when she came to live in the United States for the first time in 1998. By following her father, a professor at a Korean University who brought his family to Austin, TX for 2 years as an exchange-teaching faculty, Lim was able to encounter art that was “different” from the art in Korea. Lim recalls, “ I was attracted to the art education in the United States, which placed a strong emphasis on Culture and Arts.” Austin also became the place where Lim first experienced art therapy through volunteering at a children’s camp during those years. Per Lim, the children’s camp hosted the children from all socio-economic classes and there were many inevitable conflicts among the children. However, the host organization used art therapy as a tool for exploring creative solutions. Lim recalls, “I was surprised by the way the art was used at the children’s camp. For me, who was more accustomed to a more conforming and passive perspective in Korea, the experience at this children’s camp opened up a new perspective.” At the same time, Lim’s interest in art was fueled by encountering the works of various artists through visiting the art galleries and museums in the United States, as Lim states. After her 2-year of living in the United States, Lim went back to Korea and attended a high school. During high school, Lim was determined to pursue her career as an art therapist. She applied for a psychology program at Seoul Women’s University and successfully earned her entry. While at college, Lim took the Child Psychology, Adult Psychology and art-related classes as a preparation for becoming an art therapist. Once she decided to continue her education in art therapy at a graduate school, Lim focused on preparing for the application. In 2007, Lim embarked on a very demanding life of a graduate student with her successful admission into the art therapy program at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. However, it was not only the workload that made her life very busy. Lim became very invested in cultivating her personal art-making practice through studying art therapy at her school. She comments on the program at her school that, “It did not only teach me about psychology and the theories about art therapy, but, the program also encouraged the students to invest in personal art-making practice and thus to remain their artist identity.” Lim comments on her art practice at the time that “I did not major in fine arts at my college and that actually helped me to become open-minded to and curious about various media in art. I explored photography, print-making, sculpture, painting and collage.” Indeed, Lim’s exploration and cultivation of her art practice continues in these very days of working as an art therapist after graduation. Her 7 individual and group exhibitions in the past 2 years manifest her passion for remaining as an art therapist who also is an active artist. Currently, Lim’s been working on 15 collages and paintings for another individual exhibition in Chicago on May 22nd.
Lim describes her work at Counseling Center of Lakeview as, “providing art therapy for the elderly population who are experiencing Alzheimer’s and other mental illnesses.” She also describes her position as an “art therapist who works for the rehabilitation and facilitation of a comfortable life style for the elders in the community.” Lim’s passion also lies in promoting wellbeing of Korean-American community in Chicago. Lim reports, “In Korean-American community, art therapy and counseling are not well-recognized. It is my hope to see that various counseling services for children, youth, and the elders, to be successfully activated in Korean-American community.” Being an immigrant and a foreigner herself in the United States, Lim states, “I do share the similar loneliness and the stress from unsettlement that the immigrants commonly experience.” She adds, “I want to volunteer for more opportunities where I could serve Korean immigrants by providing counseling and art therapy in their native language.” According to Lim, there might be many Korean Immigrants living in the United States who are struggling with depression. Lim says, “They may be expressing their depression by saying they are “sad.” I want to see more opportunities for reaching Korean Immigrants and toughing their “sadness” through art therapy in the future.”
In her final words in this interview, Lim emphasizes, “Art therapy may not be an instant cure for mental illnesses. However, there are great healing potentials in the safe space and a communication tool that art therapy could offer to individuals.”
<Interviewed by Yong Hwan Kim, Translated by Jane Song>
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