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JCSU Dedicates New Priceless Korean Art Gallery

April 28, 2008 - Johnson C. Smith University President Dorothy Cowser Yancy announced that a new art gallery is established at the James B. Duke Memorial Library on campus. The gallery is named for its benefactress, Dr. Inja Hong. Surrounded by family, friends, faculty, students, and alumni, Hong welcomed visitors to the display of mostly Korean art during a dedication ceremony April 20, 2008.

"I am so pleased to have a permanent home for this collection at Johnson C. Smith University," said Hong, "I can share my good fortune in collecting art over the years." Hong has been serving as special assistant to the president for special projects since her 1995 retirement as professor and dean of library affairs at JCSU.

Dr. Inja Hong and Dr. Cowser
Yancy shake hands during the
dedication ceremony of the Inja
Hong Gallery.

When Hong arrived at the university in 1998, her first task was to work with President Yancy on a $7 million construction project of the university library. Hong said, “Building the library is part of Dr. Yancy’s legacy. An art gallery was part of the original plan for the library, so completing the gallery has been my contribution to the legacy. Dr.Yancy and I share a mutual trust and respect. Meeting Dr. Yancy has been my good fortune and we will remain friends for years to come.”

Yancy stated that "the arts are for everyone, and I think that is particularly important at a historically black liberal arts university. It is vital that a visual statement of the importance of the arts be made."

Donated from the personal collection of Hong and her family, including her husband, Dr. Rhyn H. Kim, a professor emeritus at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, more than 80 pieces of two-dimensional and three-dimensional art fill the gallery.

The Inja Hong Gallery, located in the entrance to the university library, showcases a permanent display that ranges from paintings and lithographs to calligraphy, ceramics and bone china, as well as a variety of Korean handcrafts.

Among the featured artists are Nam-Chon, Soo Nam Song, Soon Im Kim, Hei Kyung Lee, Ph.D., Birger Sandzen (1871-1954), Princess Bang-ja of Korea (1910-1984), Chong In Hong (1903-1998), Chung Ye Pak (1923-1999), and Hai Ryong Oh (1910-1997). Ceramics from the 17th and 18th centuries are included as well as modern ceramics produced by the Celadon and Ceramics Research Institute, Ewha Womans University, Korea.

One of the pieces, a ceramic that dates from the 17th century, is the only piece remaining from the collection of Dr. Hong’s father. “Once the most acclaimed art collection in Korea, it was taken from my family and destroyed during the Korean War. Only this one piece remained. It was found in the corner of a room in the house, overlooked,” Dr.Hong said.

The dedication took place on the university’s 141st Founders’ Day observance, following a university convocation and program in the Jane M. Smith Memorial Church. Hours for the Inja Hong Gallery are the same as the university library hours. For more information, call 704-371-6740.

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