Humans at Blake: Kai Sovell

Kai Sovell ’19 connects to heritage through art, science

Humans at Blake: Kai Sovell

“I want to be somebody who does everything,” explains Kai Sovell ‘19.  Both an aspiring artist and scientist, she is strongly influenced by her mixed heritage: her mother Jaye Lee, a music major and pianist, immigrated from Seoul, South Korea when she was 30 years old and her father Chase Sovell grew up in Minneapolis, Minnesota and is a surgeon.

Sitting on the two cushions outside of Deborah Weiss’ lab and classroom, Sovell explains how her blended household contributes to her identity: “I think those two worlds colliding in my household made me be passionate about both things so I love to learn about science and I love research and I love doing labs but I also spend a lot of my free time in the arts.”

Sovell has been taking art classes at the Atelier, an art school in Minneapolis, for the past three years and completed an AP drawing course independently where she did a portfolio of her maternal grandmother. She says, “I feel like, through my art, I can connect with my half Korean identity… I took a bunch of old pictures and made paintings based off of those just cause I knew that was a way to connect with her.”

Sovell’s drawing of her grandmother, entitled Halmoni, or Grandmother in Korean

This project reflects Sovell’s attempt to reconnect with her Korean roots, saying “I think I’ve been able to connect a lot with Korean stuff, like, within my household but then once I’m outside of my household, I’m much more white…I think that’s something I recently realized so I’ve been actively trying to connect with the Korean part of my identity because I think I lost that in these past few years.”

One way she has done this is through her relationship with her mother, who has strongly influenced her perception of the world, helping Sovell recognize that “the US isn’t the only country who should be priority in these global events.” Now she is, “…always conscious by how people like me are affected by moments big and small, especially in politics, where other people don’t necessarily think about that until they’re encouraged to.”

Aside from contributing to her wide range of passions, Sovell reveals how her parents have also helped her find balance when considering her future: “My mom is talking about career paths where I would make more money where my dad is leaning towards “do something you’d like to do.” Having those two perspectives all the time give me a lot of balance overall on my values and balance.”

Sovell is continuously determined to pursue her passions. She is currently enrolled in a Korean independent study so that she will be able to communicate with more of her relatives next time she travels to South Korea. She says “I’m really happy about how I’ve been able to stick with my passions even if people have told me not to and still try new things… like I’m doing nordic skiing this winter just because I wanted to try it.”

Another part of her Sovell’s portfolio, entitled: Halmoni brought me to a Cafe

Sovell is excited yet nervous about what her future will look like. She looks forward to going more in-depth on her passions and explore new ones, saying “I don’t know what path I want to take because there is so much more to learn and so many more places to go before settling down. I can’t just pick one.” Wherever she ends up, however, Sovell is dedicated to staying connected to her identity, remarking “I think it makes me who I am that I am so connected to a country that is halfway across the world.”