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Renowned Artist Promotes Healing, Connecting

By Tim Meehan

While many artists work in various mediums, most excel in just one.

So when famed Korean multidisciplinary artist Dohee Lee agreed to a short residency at Cal State San Marcos, it made sense that she wholeheartedly agreed to showcasing her multitude of talents to different groups all around campus and the community.

Lee will arrive on campus this week for four organized events – and most likely a handful of informal ones – as part of CSUSM’s Arts & Lecture series. The culminating event is a powerful experimental dance performance entitled “Ritual of Sickness” March 8 at 7:30 p.m. in Arts 111. Tickets can be purchased online. The event is free to CSUSM students, faculty, staff and alumni.

Her appearance kicks off Monday with a vocal workshop hosted by the music department at 6:45 p.m. in Arts 111. A meet and greet hosted by the Cross-Cultural Center is on March 7 at 2 p.m. at USU 3400. Dance studies will feature her for an artist talk an hour later in Arts 101.

“People can watch some of the work that I've been doing and just to talk about what I've been doing with my art,” said Lee from her home in Oakland. “One of the big aspects is activism and how it’s becoming part of our perspective. So I'm going to share, and then the performance is going to be how I turn tradition into a new contemporary way of sharing the rituals.”

Born in Korea, Lee moved to Oakland in 1998 and immediately began creating her unique performance art form of blending music and dance styles. Utilizing traditional forms she learned while training at a master level in Korean shamanism, she has won dozens of awards for her drumming, dancing and singing.

Described as an immersive ritualized theatrical creation, her performance has wowed audiences all over the world. She just returned from a show at the Gibney in New York.

Her work focuses on healing and connecting people from different backgrounds, experiences and cultures. That outlook comes from her belief in joining the traditions of indigenous people with contemporary artistic practices.

“My work is rooted in a kind of ancestral practice, which is connected to our identity of who we are living in a different country, which is not our land. This is indigenous land,” said Lee, whose home of Jeju Island is home to 13,000 gods and goddesses in Korean mythology. “From understanding who we are to understanding all of our ancestors, or their history and their lands. Their lives and their stories are important because those are really living in our body. That's why I'm doing this work to share this is how I process it, to connect with others, and with asking people, ‘What is your story? What is your connection to your culture, your ancestors, your stories? And how you relate to it? Or is there any disconnection and how can we be connected?’ Those are my really my inquiries to bring out to people to think about.”

In addition to a performance artist, Lee considers herself an educator.

CSUSM dance lecturer Crystal Sepulveda suggested bringing Lee to campus as part of the Arts & Lecture series. So when she was approached to perform at CSUSM, Lee didn’t hesitate to carve out space in her calendar.

She prides herself on making her art accessible to students and making herself available in order to share her outlook and experience with the campus community.

“Whenever I teach classes and workshops, I feel like that's really important to bring some awareness of what is happening outside in the society and country and the world,” Lee said. “It allows us to be connected to ourselves in our bodies. So just try to make connection. To understanding of the relationship between human to human, human to nature, human to society, human to the planet. Performance and ritual are very important as a healing practice.”

Media Contact

Eric Breier, Public Affairs Specialist

ebreier@csusm.edu | Office: 760-750-7314