Ariel Chung ’21: Finding Oneself Through the Arts

Ariel Chung in Macbeth wearing cape and mask

Ariel Chung ’21 graduated from her international high school in Korea with only five other students, so it was natural for her to be interested in a small college setting. Davidson has provided that environment and also countless opportunities for Chung, a Pepper Visual Arts Scholar, to learn more about herself and her passions.

“I helped launch the theatre program at my high school, and it really brought people together as a community,” Chung said. “I love performing, but I also like how people connect through shows.”

A theatre major and computer science minor, Chung has performed in a show every semester at Davidson. In 2018, she had the opportunity to intern with the Penumbra Theatre in Minnesota, an experience she calls game changing.

“I grew up in sort of an abyss between America and Korea, surrounded by English speakers and Korean-Americans at my school and church,” Chung said. “I have always been really good at assimilating, and Penumbra helped me realize so much about myself and how I see myself.” 

Another key opportunity for Chung was a trip to NYC led by Visiting Theatre Professor Steve Kaliski ’07.

“We went to see the play Suicide Forest, and it was the first time I saw people who looked like me put into words things I could not express,” she said. “We had front row seats, and I cried and cried.”

Today, Chung is working on a passion project in sustainable fashion, thanks to funds from a Davidson Arts & Creative Engagement COVID-19 Creative Initiative Grant. She takes clothes from her own wardrobe that she doesn’t wear anyone and creates new clothes, hair scrunchies and eco-bags.

“I guess this is my own way of trying to save the world,” she said. “I hope I can turn this into a non-profit organization.”

Looking ahead to graduating in May, Chung, who also serves as a DACE Arts Fellow, would love to pursue acting, even though she knows how challenging that path can be. She is also interested in theatre education. Davidson has helped to prepare her for whatever lies ahead.

“I have really loved the variety of courses I’ve been able to take at Davidson,” she said. “I joke with my friends that I could minor in anything with one or two more classes. Some of the most unusual class choices are the ones that have stuck with me the most.”


  • September 30, 2020