New art class also teaches inner peace

Published 6:29 pm Tuesday, April 26, 2022

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Suffolk residents have the chance to learn about a unique style of painting this summer.

Soonja Woo Cho is leading an eight-week class on Oriental Art from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. on Tuesdays, May 31 through July 19, at the Suffolk Center for Cultural Arts, 110 W. Finney Ave.

Oriental Art is a type of painting that focuses on “using harmony, beauty and balance to create eloquent and expressive images.”

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“It’s not just an art; it’s a self-discipline,” said Cho. “Oriental painting helps build inner peace and strength and harmony. There is so much going on in the world that we need more peace. More inner peace creates less conflict and division.”

Cho has taught at Virginia Commonwealth University, the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts and the Cultural Arts Center in Richmond. This will be her second class at the Suffolk Center for Cultural Arts, as her first class is still in session. She has taught a wide range of ages and skill levels and encourages anyone interested to give it a try.

“Everyone can join and work together,” said Cho. “Everyone has the capacity to draw, but many just don’t have the chance to try. Not everyone will be a master, but they will have skills.”

The course will have participants painting various pieces with deeper meaning. For example, participants will paint bamboo for inner strength and an orchid for humility. Painting these symbols helps the painters to enjoy the beauty of nature while looking inward as well.

One of Cho’s noteworthy students is an 80-year-old woman who took Cho’s classes for five years. According to Cho, it was amazing to see the growth and skill that came from her work. Cho also worked with someone who brought their son with autism. He painted a pine tree that was later displayed in an art show.

“It just shows that anyone can do it,” she said. “Everyone is welcome to come and enjoy themselves and many leave with more self-confidence about what they can do.”

The class is $100 and is aimed for adults. Register or learn more at