Ja Won Lee Faculty Profile

Photo of Ja Won Lee

Ja Won  Lee

Assistant Professor

Department of Art

Ja Won Lee specializes in Korean and Chinese visual and material culture. She teaches on a wide range of topics in the history of Asian art and visual culture, including Asian art and globalism, collecting and display of Asian art in the West, cultural exchanges through the Silk Road, and the issue of connoisseurship and conservation. Her research interests include art collecting, antiquarianism, and artistic interactions between Asia and Americas. In her article, “Collecting Culture, Representing the Self: Chosŏn Portraits of Collectors of Chinese Antiquities,” in Seoul Journal of Korean Studies 31 (2018), she examines how a trend in collecting and appreciating Chinese antiquities had an impact on the developments of portraiture in the nineteenth century. Her work has been supported by numerous institutions and foundations, including Columbia University’s Mary Griggs Burke Center for Japanese Art, the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Kyujanggak Institute for Korean Studies, UCLA International Institute, and Harvard-Yenching Institute.


Trained in painting, design, and art history, Ja Won Lee received her BFA and MA from Seoul National University and her PhD from UCLA. Prior to joining Cal State East Bay, she has taught at Columbia University, UCLA, and the University of Hong Kong. She was also a Mary Griggs Burke Postdoctoral Fellow at Columbia University (2018-2019) and a Jane and Morgan Whitney Fellow at the Metropolitan Museum of Art (2016-2017), and worked on Asian art exhibitions and conservation at the Frankfurt Museum for Applied Art in Germany, Leeum, Samsung Museum of Art, and Seoul National University Museum of Art in Korea.

Ja Won Lee is currently at work on a monograph, Crossing Cultures: Antiquarianism in Modern Asia, which centers on antiquarianism and transcultural movements in eighteenth- and nineteenth-century Korea, China, and Japan. 

  • PhD in Art History, University of California, Los Angeles
  • MA in Art Theory, Seoul National University
  • BFA in Korean Painting and BS in Textiles, Merchandising and Fashion Design, Seoul National University
Fall Semester 2022
Course #SecCourse TitleDaysFromToLocationCampus
ART 12001Art of Asia & Pacific WorldM11:00AM12:15PMAE-1203Hayward Campus
ART 42001World IIM12:30PM1:45PMAE-1203Hayward Campus
ART 493G01Art History Senior ProjectARRWEB-ASYNCHOnline Campus

2018. “Collecting Culture, Representing the Self: Chosŏn Portraits of Collectors of Chinese Antiquities,” Seoul Journal of Korean Studies 31 (June): 1–20. Refereed

2017. “Der Antiken-Stellschirm des Museums für Völkerkunde Hamburg [Screens of Antiquities in the Museum of Ethnography in Hamburg],” in Uri Korea: Kunsthistorische und ethnografische Beiträge zur Ausstellung, edited by Susanne Knödel and Bernd Schmelz, 296–313. Hamburg: Museum für Völkerkunde of Hamburg.

‘Culture on Display: Chinese Antiquities in Korean Ch’aekkŏri Screens.’ The Institute of Fine Arts, New York, June 2019.

‘Tansaekhwa: Convention and Challenge in Contemporary Korean Art.’ Korean Cultural Center in Hong Kong, March 2018.

‘Antiques Matters: Chinese Bronzes in Screens of Books and Scholarly Utensils.’ University of California, Los Angeles, CA, June 2017.

‘In Pursuit of Antiques: Paintings of Flowers and Antiques and Antiquarianism in Late Chosŏn Korea.’ Association for Korean Studies in Europe Conference, Prague, Czech Republic, April 2017.

‘The Life of Things: Collecting and Illustrating Chinese Bronzes in Korea.’ The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, NY, April 2017.

‘Imaginary Past: Chinese Bronzes in the Late Chosŏn Court Paintings.’ Harvard University, Cambridge, MA, February 2017.    

‘Objects in Motion: Chinese Antiquities in An Chungsik's Paintings.’ Association for Asian Studies Annual Meeting, Seattle, WA, March 2016.

‘Visualizing the Past: O Sech’ang’s Art Collection in Early Twentieth-Century Korea.” University of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA, January 2015.

Postdoctoral Fellowship, Mary Griggs Burke Center for Japanese Art, Columbia University, 2018–2019               

Taiwan Studies Fellowship, Asia Pacific Center, UCLA, 2017–2018          

Jane and Morgan Whitney Fellowship, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2016–2017              

Research Travel Grant, Northeast Asia Council of the Association for Asian Studies, 2016   

Mellon Pre-dissertation Fellowship, Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, 2015–2016                              

Edward A. Dickson History of Art Fellowship, Department of Art History, UCLA, 2014–2016      

Ruth Nagle Watkins Summer Research Scholarship, UCLA, 2014–2016      

International Institute Fieldwork Fellowship, UCLA, 2014