The Scarlet & Black

The Independent Student News Site of Grinnell College

The Scarlet & Black

The Scarlet & Black

Feven Getachew
Feven Getachew
May 6, 2024
Michael Lozada
Michael Lozada
May 6, 2024
Nathan Hoffman
Nathan Hoffman
May 6, 2024
Harvey Wilhelm `24.
Harvey Wilhelm
May 6, 2024

Grinnell Artists: Ryan Hung ’18


By Ahon Gooptu

When creating art, Ryan Hung ’18 commits, putting his heart and soul into a project. However, once he is done, he does not move onto another project immediately. He prefers to take breaks between new works of art, finding activities completely outside of the arts to immerse himself in. 

“I’m not one of those artists who can constantly just keep going to take on project after project,” he said. “I love performance and creating performance … but sometimes feel like I’m not sure if I want to be an artist.”

When he came to Grinnell as a Posse scholar, Hung knew he wanted to continue doing performance, but did not think that he would eventually graduate as a theatre and dance major.

Having taken private lessons in dance, theatre and music throughout his childhood, Hung had always been in touch with the performing arts. However, in high school, he found himself having to choose between athletics and the arts.

“In high school, I decided to commit to athletics. But I felt that once I was going to come to college, I sort of regretted how much time I couldn’t put back into the arts. So I decided to focus on the arts,” he said.

During his first year, Hung primarily spent his extracurricular time performing, but went back to running track in his second year. He spent the entirety of his third year in off-campus study, delving back into performance at the Trinity/La MaMa Performing Arts program in New York City for the first few months. But the intense program made him wonder what mattered to him the most and what he wanted his role to be in this world.

“I think I have a conflicting struggle with that. So I find myself in a cycle where I pour a lot into making art for a certain period of time and then stepping away from it for a while and then coming back,” he said.

After watching over 40 different shows in New York City and choreographing a piece that professionally debuted at the La MaMa Experimental Theatre Club, he traveled to Seoul, South Korea and spent the rest of his third year there. He took classes out of the arts during his time in Seoul, and got ahead on his college coursework.

“I was able to explore my creativity a lot [in New York City] and then when I went to Korea, I did nothing related to art,” Hung said.

However, even when he is not heavily involved in the arts, he still finds the time to practice and enjoy it in a way that does not involve being invested in the creative process.

After studying off-campus for a year, Hung found himself running on a busy schedule with final and independent projects, one of which he recently finished and the other which he is currently working on.

“I just finished assistant directing ‘The Royale,’ which has been a great time. But I’m currently choreographing a piece called ‘Gloomy Clock/Letter,’ which goes up in Flanagan on May 5 and 6 as my capstone for the theatre and dance major,” he said.

Hung recalled having a hard time just “existing” in a place like Grinnell, but cannot be more grateful for how the College has helped him be a better version of himself.

“One thing that I do think that our department does really well, maybe because we lack the sort of studio training that many people want in acting or dance, is that our professors are able to focus on our curriculum where they can help nurture their student artists in a way to encourage them to devise and create their own work for themselves,” he said. “Coming to Grinnell has allowed me to hone that side of me more in being able to create my own art and what it means to develop and shape our individual voice and put it out there.”

As a recipient of the Fulbright scholarship, Hung will be back in South Korea for a year to teach English as a second language. However, he hopes to simultaneously collaborate on a range of projects with local Korean artists, while working towards greater accessibility to the arts for Koreans. The end-goal would be to “build relations in regards to how to have more Korean-American exchanges in the arts.”

“I do think that there is more for me to explore despite having gone there pretty recently,” he said. “I do find myself enjoying going back to places more than once and exploring what else I can find, not necessarily in the place, but in myself, existing in that place.”

Ryan Hung ’18 hopes to continue to be involved in the arts after graduation. Photo by Helena Gruensteidl.
Leave a Comment
More to Discover
Donate to The Scarlet & Black
Our Goal

Comments (0)

All The Scarlet & Black Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *