By Pam Chamberlain, submitted 2010
When Aimee Woo (BSc '06) came to Canada to study English ten years ago, she never dreamed she'd wind up working in one of the country's most famous and beautiful historic buildings.
Aimee is the manager of the Mountain Gallery in the Banff Springs Hotel, one of the company's three galleries located in Fairmont hotels. Aimee is responsible for organizing and planning everyday events and special openings. She also manages inventory and staff.
The gallery's mission is to support and promote Canadian artists. Aimee says, "I am proud to be part of it and to share my knowledge of Canadian artists with visitors from around the world." She spends up to a month preparing for each new artist, learning about their art and their biographies. The gallery regularly hosts openings, and Aimee enjoys meeting artists on opening day. "It helps for me to have a personal connection with the artist when I'm talking to clients about art," she explains.
Although meeting artists is a highlight of her job, Aimee says, "The best part is when a client comes back to tell me how much she loves the piece now hanging in her home. It's a great feeling."
Aimee volunteers once a week at the Whyte Museum in Banff. "Volunteering has been more helpful to me than it has to those I volunteer for!" she says. "I've learned a lot, but more important, I've met great people and become part of the Banff community. That helps me feel at home here in Banff, which is hard when I'm so far away from my family and friends in Korea."
Aimee recently received permanent residency in Canada. "Canada feels more like home to me than Korea does now," she says. "Banff is amazing. It's a beautiful place to work and live."
Thinking back, Aimee says, "I wouldn't be here without what I learned at Augustana." Although she enrolled as a biology major, she had always been interested in visual arts and saw plenty of opportunities at Augustana to explore that passion. "I wasn't sure I could do it," she admits. "I was already 25 years old and hadn't taken an art class since I was a child."
She took the plunge and registered in Keith Harder's Drawing II class. "I loved every minute of it," Aimee recalls. "It was the best class I ever took because it opened up a new door for me."
Aimee registered for a concentration in studio art and went on to take painting courses. She received the 2005 Critic's Choice Award for her piece "Eyes," which still hangs in Founders' Hall. "I can't thank Dr. Harder enough," she says. "He helped me believe in myself."
"Augustana gave me the opportunity to explore a passion that has enriched me personally and paved the way for a fabulous career opportunity," Aimee says. "Augustana changed my life."