Theses Doctoral

Tradition and Transformation: Analysis of the Trajectory of Change in Artwork by Artists With an Educational Background in Oriental Painting After Graduation

Byeon, Uisuk

This qualitative multiple case study tracks the work of six artists with an educational background in oriental painting, traditional Korean painting, for their BFA major. This study reveals a change in their artwork from their original training after graduation to their current manner of artistic expression. This transformation occurs as they develop their artwork in a more contemporary way in the South Korean art world where Western art/global art has become a center. Although oriental painting has been influenced by Western art since Japanese colonial liberation in the 1940s, this situation presents conceptual conflicts between traditional and contemporary approaches to this genre of art. This study examines how six artists find their artistic position between conflicting values through the examination of the trajectory of the changes in their artwork since their graduation from undergraduate school.

The participants of this study were six artists (three men and three women) who earned a BFA degree in oriental painting in South Korea. Semi-structured interviews, visual data of artists’ artworks, and written notes were sources of data analysis. The qualitative case study was based on constructivism of philosophical worldviews. The evolution of the participants’ artwork is examined based on theories such as Jack Mezirow’s transformative learning and Robert Kegan’s adult development.

This study presents the transformation from two perspectives: sociocultural factors and personal motivations. Each perspective reflects changes in materials and techniques as well as changes in imagery. Furthermore, the enduring values of oriental painting in the transformation are examined, which includes Eastern philosophy and aesthetics and visual elements such as three-distance perspective, blank space, and expression of line. Ultimately, this study argues that there exist various avenues of transformation based on oriental painting, with tradition persisting in novel forms of contemporary art.

Geographic Areas


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More About This Work

Academic Units
Arts and Humanities
Thesis Advisors
Burton, Judith M.
Ed.D., Teachers College, Columbia University
Published Here
February 15, 2023