Transcript of Dominic Pangborn’s Gwangju speech
Park West artist Dominic Pangborn had the honor of speaking at the 11th annual Gwangju Biennale and Gwangju International Art Fair on Aug. 24 in Gwangju, Korea.
The theme of the event was “art for humanity movement.” As a special guest who represented artists from overseas, Pangborn gave a speech on how art can change the hearts and minds of people.
Below is a transcript of Pangborn’s speech:
Fifty-five years ago, I was standing in Goesan, Chungcheongbok-Do. I was 9 years old and about to leave for America.
I was born in Goesan during the war. My father was an American G.I. that I would never meet and my mother a Korean villager. As a mixed race child, I wasn’t welcome in many places. The other children taunted me, and the elders would just give me dirty looks. My future didn’t look too promising, so when my mother asked if I wanted to go to America, I immediately said yes.
It was at that moment art – rather the idea of art for humanity – came into my life. You see it’s not about painting, dancing, and writing – art is truly a way of caring.
I was adopted by an American family, the Pangborn family. They already had 11 children and they opened their doors to add one more: me. That’s art right there. To love and care for another child with no strings attached – unconditional love is a masterpiece.
Living in America gave me all of these freedoms, but it also brought its fair share of challenges. I didn’t speak a word of English when I came to America, and although I managed to learn to speak and read quickly, it didn’t come easy to me. My English wasn’t good, and my writing skills were worse. This is why I took to art so quickly – I could express my thoughts and feelings without having to struggle through language. It’s only natural I went to art school in Chicago to keep expressing myself.
In Chicago I thought a lot about my future, about what I was going to do with my life. I knew I wanted to bring my art to the people, I wanted to bring that love and caring into their lives, I wanted to help them. So I became a successful graphic designer. I created jobs, taught people how to harness their creativity. I also joined every civic organization, every charity, and just about every group that would have me. I knew if I wanted to make a difference, I’d have to do more than just express my art. I’d have to walk the path of others, from poor to rich, from young to old, from color to color.
I choose art to express my inner thoughts and place my soul.
Art makes you think. Not only for the creator but for the viewer as well.
Art is alive, it touches us, it makes us smile, laugh and at times it brings tears too.
Art is immortal. For thousands of years, it will continue to touch the living.
Art is sharing, it brings people together into a community.
My greatest artistic moment is caring. I sit next to a cancer patient receiving her chemo on Wednesdays, the warmth I feel knowing I’m making a difference.
Giving a support to those who may be weak or at times, seem hopeless, we need to keep believing, perseverance – we will succeed.
I’d like to thank every one of those who’s given and supported my life to let me be where I am today.
True art is helping others, building a community where we all can live in peace.