Westmont welcomed four new professors in the fall who have brought a passion for teaching and an appreciation of the college’s community. Nathan Huff (art), Han Soo Kim (music), Sharon Tang-Quan (English) and Felicia Wu Song (sociology) have finished their first semester teaching at Westmont.
Huff, a multi-talented and eclectic artist, has strengthened the college’s non-traditional art offerings. “I want to support students in some of the diverse ways art is made, opening up contemporary practices for installation, performance and sculpture,” he says.
Huff, who used to create traditional oil paintings, has become more interested in building narratives between drawings and sculpture, exploring images we recognize and ones that surprise us. “I am intrigued by an eclectic disjuncture or combination of objects and imagery,” he says. “These juxtapositions often end up as drawing installations or performances.”
Huff graduated from Azusa Pacific University and earned a Master of Fine Art in drawing and painting from CSU Long Beach. He has also studied art in Italy, France, the United Kingdom and Spain. “The thing I love about art is that it opens up avenues for exploration in ways that science or writing or math don’t always do,” he says.
“Visual communication in art is potent in that it engages the emotions, the intellect and often the soul. “I find that identity is absolutely infused in every component I make as an artist concerned with matters of faith. I am discovering incredibly rich conversations happening with other artists exploring what it means to be human in relationship to the divine.”
Kim, an award-winning artist who has performed at the Boston Symphony Hall, Isaac Stern Auditorium at Carnegie Hall and the Kennedy Center, has joined the music faculty as assistant professor of violin. “Performing is great, but when a student plays better because of what I am able to teach, the joy is incredible,” he says.
His interest in teaching began early. As a child, Han Soo imitated his violin teacher, putting a stuffed animal on a stool and repeating his lessons. “Teaching was my passion,” he says. “Although I also wanted to be an FBI agent.”
He started teaching violin students when he was in college. Han Soo earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the Julliard School and a Doctor of Musical Arts from Stony Brook University in New York. He has performed in more than a dozen countries and played at world-renowned conservatories, music schools and festivals. He also performs on the viola and has collaborated with Yo-Yo Ma, the Emerson String Quartet, and the International Sejong Soloists.
His wife, Joanne Kim, who is completing her doctorate in clarinet, teaches part time at Westmont. “We are so blessed to be at the same school and to share a love for music and teaching,” Han Soo says. “It’s an amazing opportunity for us.”
Tang-Quan, assistant professor of English, loves teaching. She graduated from UC Berkeley before earning a master’s degree and doctorate from UC Santa Barbara, where she taught from 2009 to 2013.
“I’m impressed by how deeply the faculty and staff care about Westmont students,” she says. “We know their stories, and we are committed to supporting and challenging them in their development as thoughtful scholars.”
Her research focuses on American literature, with a specialty in race and ethnic studies. “I enjoy examining theories of hope and utopia in transnational literature, as well as teaching courses in 19th century British literature,” she says.
She met Westmont professor Cheri Larsen Hoeckley at a conference and enjoyed discussing research, literature and faith with her. “I thought Westmont would be a great environment,” Tang-Quan says. “Being able to train thoughtful and grateful scholars with a global emphasis is what I want to be doing—and it just happens to be part of Westmont’s mission statement.”
Tang-Quan cherishes the intimacy of her small classes and the ability to spend time with students. “I enjoy challenging them wherever they might be intellectually and spiritually,” she says.
Song calls it a step of faith. She and her husband, Edward, left faculty positions at Louisiana State University (he had earned tenure) and moved to Santa Barbara with their two children. She joined the sociology department as an associate professor, and Edward taught two courses in political theory as a scholar-in-residence this fall.
In addition to teaching at LSU, Song has written a book, “Virtual Communities: Bowling Alone, Online Together,” contributed a chapter to the book, “Therapeutic Culture: Triumph and Defeat,” and published numerous journal articles. To prepare for her new book, tentatively titled “Mom Blogging: Narratives of Transformation and Re- Branding,” she has been attending social media conferences and conducting research.
Her research focuses on the women at the heart of these blogs and the changes they undergo as they realize they can monetize their work. “They’re doing something they already love and are realizing they’re getting a lot of attention from legitimate forces,” she says. “There are interesting dynamics involved as well, including race, which I am exploring.”
Song graduated from Yale before earning a master’s degree in communication studies from Northwestern. “I was interested in media and technology and how these two forces in society shape our relationships, experiences of community and understandings of identity,” she says.