Mina Cheon MFA ’02, Imaging & Digital Arts, is a Korean American global new media artist, scholar, and educator. Dividing her time between Baltimore, New York, and Seoul, Korea, Cheon produces artwork – “Polipop” – that draws inspiration from global media and popular culture, intersecting politics and pop art in evocative ways, while maintaining her connections to UMBC and the MFA program.
“All of Dr. Cheon’s accomplishments indicate a level of insight, innovation, persistence, and quality of production that serves as a model for what our IMDA grads and alumni might attain at not only a local and national, but also international level,” says nominator Dr. Kathy O’Dell, Associate Professor of Visual Arts and Special Assistant to the Dean for Education & Arts Partnerships at UMBC.
Cheon received a Ph.D. in philosophy of media and communications from1 the European Graduate School at the European University for Interdisciplinary Studies in Switzerland, an MFA in painting from the Hoffberger School of Painting at the Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA), and a BFA in painting from Ewha Womans University in Seoul, Korea.
With a thematic focus on geopolitical and contested spaces, race culture and postcolonialism, and Asia’s relationship to the Western world in global media culture, Cheon has worked on North Korean awareness and global peace projects since 2004. Cheon’s work has been exhibited in or is in the collection of numerous and varied museums and galleries internationally. Represented by Ethan Cohen Gallery in New York, Cheon’s art is currently featured at the international Busan Biennale 2018 in Korea where her art installation of 100,000 choco-pies is meant for the audience to eat. The famous snack loved by North Koreans and produced in South Korea has become the product of the existing cultural loving exchanges between the two Koreas and the work advocates for Korean unification.
The author of Shamanism and Cyberspace, Cheon contributes to a variety of publications and serves on the Board of Directors of the New Media Caucus of the College Art Association. Awarded the 2010 Martin Luther King, Jr. Day and Unity Week Award for her efforts promoting cultural diversity within and beyond her college, Cheon is a full-time Professor at MICA and a mentor of Art-Uni-On, a global mentorship network by Hyundai Co. and the Seoul National University College of Fine Arts.
Despite her global reach, Cheon remains committed to the local Baltimore art scene. Alongside husband and architect Gabriel Kroiz, Cheon owns and operates K-Town Studios in the Remington neighborhood of Baltimore City. Home to their own studios, Cheon and Kroiz rent affordable studio space to artists and creative entrepreneurs. Additionally, the husband and wife team, known professionally as Cheon Kroiz, launched the installation Diamonds Light Baltimore at the inaugural Light City festival in 2016.
At UMBC, Cheon is known for her support of Intermedia and Digital Arts (IMDA) graduate students, returning to campus for lectures to current students and offering feedback to graduates on current research and creative work. In May, Cheon presented the inaugural IMDA Friends + Alumni MFA Award. Founded and inspired by Cheon, the award recognizes the most outstanding MFA exhibition and written thesis with $1,000 monetary award, with the goal of boosting the emerging career of promising IMDA alumni.
— Amy Dalrymple
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