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MUSIC & ARTS Edited by Emilee Jennings (emilee@groovekorea.com)

Lee Smathers brings film negatives to life

Fermented photography Story by Bri Altier Photos courtesy of Lee Smathers

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hile attending college in 1997, Lee Smathers went to a birthday ceremony at a Korean-American church whose members were focused on cultivating cultural interest within their younger members. It was here that Smathers began his love affair with Korean culture. He has a hard time deciding if it was the fan dances, the hanbok or the bulgogi that won Smathers over, but he was hooked. Over the next three years, he spent a great deal of time at the church creating photo journals. One day, a friend at the church said, “Lee, if you want to learn about Korea, you need to go to Korea.” Smathers is a photographer, professor and Korean culture enthusiast with a passion for mixing the old with the new. He grew up in the United States with a father who molded pottery and a mother who created textiles and crafts. With so much creativity surrounding his upbringing, it is no surprise that he and his two

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siblings all became artists in their own regard. In 2000, Smathers coordinated an independent studies course with his master’s program which gave him the opportunity to study in Korea. He spent a mere three months in the country, but became completely enamored: “I was just so attracted to Korea that I really didn’t want to go back to the States. So I knew that once I finished my master’s work in photography that I was going to come back over.” He returned to the U.S. to complete his degree and then came back to Korea one month after his graduation — this time not as a student, but as a teacher. After 10 years of working in Korea, Lee secured a full-time photography professorship at Keimyung University in Daegu, where he is currently employed. At Keimyung, Lee teaches his classes with a little extra flair. On the first day of his black-and-white photography course, Lee gives his students a roll of

Groove Korea January 2014  

Groove is Korea's English magazine for Insight, Travel, Culture, Dining and Shopping

Groove Korea January 2014  

Groove is Korea's English magazine for Insight, Travel, Culture, Dining and Shopping

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