Illinois State University will hold its annual Founders Day observance on Thursday, February 21. The day’s events will celebrate Illinois State’s heritage and traditions and honor the accomplishments of faculty, staff, students, and alumni. Artist and Illinois State alumna Wonsook Kim will receive an honorary Doctor of Arts degree during the Founders Day Convocation.

For more information and event registration, visit the Founders Day website.

Events will begin at 10 a.m. as selected faculty, staff, students, alumni, and others participate in the Founders Day Bell Ringing Ceremony in the Brown Ballroom of the Bone Student Center. Displays highlighting Illinois State’s history and academic mission will be part of the STATE Showcase in the Brown Ballroom from 9 a.m.-4:30 p.m.

The Founders Day Convocation will take place at 2 p.m. in the Brown Ballroom. The ceremony will include the presentation of some of the University’s highest awards, including the University Professor, Distinguished Professor, Outstanding Teacher and Researcher, and A/P and Civil Service Distinguished Service honors. Other awards will recognize excellence in teaching, research, service, and commitment to diversity. A reception will follow the convocation at 3:30 p.m.

Wonsook Kim

headshot of Wonsook Kim

Wonsook Kim

Kim is renowned for her authentic, exuberant narratives in paintings, prints, drawings, sculpture, multimedia, and installations, which have been shown in museums and galleries around the world. Her engaging, contemporary works result from her lifetime experiences in Korea and the United States.

Born in Busan, Korea, in 1953, Kim began drawing at a young age. Some of her earliest influences came from Korean folk stories and Christian Bible stories. She studied western traditions of art in high school and college in Korea, and arrived in the U.S. in 1972 to begin a bachelor’s degree in fine arts at Illinois State. During her studies, she was influenced by Professor Harold Boyd, who encouraged her to develop the autobiographical nature of her art. Kim continued her studies at Illinois State, earning an MFA with an emphasis on printmaking.

From Wonsook Kim’s Forest Scenes series.

She has maintained a strong connection with Illinois State over the years. Artwork by Kim and Boyd was featured in an exhibition, The Spirits Descending, at the University Galleries in the early 1990s. She delivered a commencement address to the College of Fine Arts in 2004. In 2015, she established the Wonsook Kim Scholarship Endowment at Illinois State.

Kim moved to New York City in 1976, and in 1980-81, was included in prominent exhibitions of new figurative art such as Episodes, at Grace Borgenicht Gallery, and Illustration and Allegory, at Brooke Alexander, Inc., where she also had her first solo exhibition in the United States in 1982. She has since had one-person exhibitions in New York City, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Chicago, Los Angeles, Hamburg, Paris, Seoul, Bologna, Sofia, São Paulo, and Tokyo, among other cities. Public collections include the Museum of Modern Art, New York City; Brooklyn Museum of Art; Ringling Museum of Art, Sarasota, Florida; University Galleries of Illinois State University, Normal; National Museum of Women In the Arts, Washington, D.C.; National Museum of Contemporary Art, Seoul; Watari Museum of Contemporary Art, Tokyo; and the Vatican Collection, Vatican City.

Kim works and resides in New York and Bloomington, Indiana, with her husband, Thomas Clement.