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April 07, 2021

Cleveland Institute of Art Faculty Member Aimee Lee Named Fulbright Senior Scholar


April 7, 2021

CLEVELAND—The Cleveland Institute of Art is pleased to share that Aimee Lee, a Printmaking faculty member, recently received a Fulbright U.S. Scholar Program award to South Korea.

Lee is a papermaker and writer—and she is North America's leading researcher of hanji, which is Korean paper. She will research at the Center for Intangible Cultural Studies at Jeonbuk National University as part of a project to document traditional techniques for making bal, the fine bamboo screens needed to make hanji. There are only two people left in Korea making bal, an elderly couple, and Lee is observing their process and interviewing them as part of her research.

"My primary work for the last 14 to 15 years has been to document and continue traditions that are at risk of erasure," Lee says. "As a Korean-American, this process is doubly important to me, and I've been grateful to see more and more students and young folks see my path as an example for ways that they, too, can do meaningful research that connects to their heritage."

Lee is CIA's second Fulbright Scholar. Maureen Kiernan was awarded in both 1998 and 1999 for her work, "Faculty Exchange and Distance Learning in Art Curriculum Development," with the department of English at the University of Tunis in Tunisia.

"CIA is thrilled that the Fulbright Scholar Program is recognizing the important work Professor Lee is doing to save this classic process from extinction," says Grafton Nunes, CIA president and CEO. "What she learns will add to her printmaking practice, and by extension, educate our students to value the art-making processes and materials of other cultures."

Lee's research will be used to complete her second book, which will be about people who make tools and equipment for papermaking. Her studies will also allow her to expand her practice and to open a new hanji studio in Northeast Ohio upon her return in June.

Lee's previous scholarship in hanji was supported by the Fulbright U.S. Student Program in 2008–09, leading to her first book, the award-winning Hanji Unfurled, and to the opening of the first hanji studio in North America at the Morgan Conservatory in Cleveland.

"Of course, paper is completely integral to book arts—though often not acknowledged because it is so universal," Lee says. "My expertise in East Asian techniques and paper history helps me provide a more global approach when teaching students in my artists' books class."

"Having an artist and faculty member like Aimee teaching at CIA is significant. Her expertise in her craft is internationally recognized, and she has made strong local connections with the establishment of the hanji papermaking studio at the Morgan Conservatory," says Maggie Denk-Leigh, faculty chair for CIA's Printmaking Department. "Aimee is a very generous instructor and demands the rigor and attention to detail her book class needs. I'm so grateful for her dedication to this class."

The Fulbright Program is the flagship international educational exchange program sponsored by the U.S. government and is designed to forge lasting connections between the people of the United States and the people of other countries, counter misunderstandings, and help people and nations work together toward common goals. Since its establishment in 1946, the Fulbright Program has enabled more than 390,000 dedicated and accomplished students, scholars, artists, teachers and professionals of all backgrounds to study, teach and conduct research, exchange ideas and find solutions to shared international concerns. The Fulbright Program is funded through an annual appropriation made by the U.S. Congress to the U.S. Department of State. Participating governments and host institutions, corporations and foundations around the world also provide direct and indirect support to the program, which operates in more than 160 countries worldwide.

Members of the media with questions or who are interested in pursuing this story should contact Michael C. Butz, director of college communications and external relations, at or 216.421.7404.

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