She was 17.
She was taught art by a teacher that discouraged students to enter for scholarships. She, however, did not want to mirror her teacher; her teacher’s words fuelled her passion. Soon she was a recipient of a scholarship to the National Art School in Sydney, an achievement that sparked her confidence to pursue art.
10 years later. She is able to say she had hosted an art exhibition in the South Gyeongsang Province of South Korea.
She is Michaela Amanda Strelec. Albury, Australia. Bachelor of Arts graduate from Deakin University, Melbourne.
Michaela completed her one year teaching contract at an English academy (학원) in the coastal city of Tongyeong (통영시) at the end of September 2016. Two years previous to this, Michaela had also taught as an English debate teacher in Korea for a year.
As she packed up her bags, she came across a list that read, “When returning to Korea…” The list had reasons for why Michaela should stay in Australia versus reasons to return to Korea.
August 28, art work from three aspiring artists featured in the ‘Our Korea’ art exhibition. Jeremy Schramm (Florida, U.S.), Jung Eun Kim (Japan/South Korea) and Michaela herself.
Michaela opens up about the misconception that people have on an artist’s life, that it is easy.
“I remember at university studying visual arts as a major and seeing how it’s not taken as a serious career and that it doesn’t take as much brain power. In all honesty, even when I studied art, it took more of my time and mind than my psychology major, which you would think would not be the case. In saying that, the preparation for the exhibition was not always enjoyable.”
The young Australian admits that although she was excited to reach the opening day of her first ever exhibition, stress and frustration made an appearance on that very Sunday
“It was exciting because it really cemented things for me. That this is really happening. That this is my first step into the artist world, the practicing artist. It solidified everything I had built for.”
Held at the I-gan gallery coffee shop (이강갤러리커피숍) in Changwon (창원시), Michaela explains that the theme ‘Our Korea’ comes from the idea that all three artists live in the same country, yet each narrative differs.
Michaela interpreted the theme of the exhibition by linking traditional indigenous patterns of Australia with the culture of Korea.
Reminiscing on the opening day, Michaela shares a comment from a friend on her interpretation of ‘Our Korea.’
Following the successful art exhibition, Michaela reflects on her chapter in Korea. From this, she has used her art skills to convey her interactions with different people and cultures, and how these relate to her own culture.
Michaela shares that what helped her achieve her goal of hosting an art exhibition in a foreign country was networking and she mentions her two friends that she collaborated with to make ‘Our Korea’ a success, as an example. With renewed confidence, she brings refined skills and further networks home.