Yumi Hogan is married to Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan and she is the first Korean-American First Lady in the United States. The couple tied the knot in 2004. She has three daughters from her first marriage.
Larry Hogan has been in the national spotlight amid the coronavirus pandemic, especially for his decision to acquire 500,000 testing kits from South Korea. The governor defended the move, telling MSNBC, “The president said the governors are on their own and they should focus on getting their own tests, and that’s exactly what we did.”
Hogan also credited his wife, who was born and raised in South Korea, as a “champion” during the negotiations. She was beside him on the tarmac the day the testing kits arrived in Maryland. Both Hogans were wearing masks.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Yumi Grew Up On a Farm In South Korea & Moved to the United States As a Young Adult
But she developed a love for artwork and began attracting attention for her talent as an elementary school student. She told American University Magazine in 2015, “Ever since I was young, that was my dream: ‘I’m going to be a teacher and artist.'”
On her professional website, Hogan explained that her rural upbringing heavily influenced her artwork:
My work is inspired by the natural- that which is rampant, uncontrolled. The natural world remains both simple and complex, both tranquil and hostile, both pure and unchaste, both perfect and flawed. The natural is an evolution, both in landscape and humanity. It is a circle of life that has continuous paths joining each other yet wandering astray at the same moment.
Having grown up in Korea, my memories of the farmland, ever so important to the strength of the people remain vivid to me. Having moved to the Maryland area 22 years ago, the land and water around me still form a bond of past to present with daily landscapes reminiscent of past memories.
Hogan got married in South Korea at age 18 before immigrating to the United States. She and her first husband moved to Texas and had three daughters before divorcing, Baltimore Magazine reported. Hogan next settled in California with her children, Kim, Jaymi and Julie, before a friend recommended Howard County, Maryland, for the school system.
2. Yumi Met Larry at an Art Exhibit in 2001 but She Initially Rejected Him
Following her divorce in the early 1980s, Hogan moved with her three daughters to Howard County, Maryland, because of the quality of the school system. The Washington Post reported that when Hogan was seeking out a new community in which to raise her children, she also sought out areas in the countryside that reminded her of South Korea.
Hogan worked as a cashier in a restaurant and as a tutor to support her daughters, according to the Baltimore Sun. She also taught art classes in her basement. Between time spent working, taking her daughters to activities, earning an associate’s degree and attending church activities, Hogan found the time to become a U.S. citizen in 1994.
As her daughters grew up, Hogan fit in time for creating artwork whenever she could. In 2001, her work was selected to be part of a display in Columbia. That’s where she first met her future husband.
Larry Hogan attended the exhibit and was interested in Yumi, but the feeling was not mutual. She recalled to Baltimore Magazine in a 2015 interview that she accepted Larry Hogan’s business card, but she never called him because she was not interested in “just dating” at the time. He showed up at the same exhibit one year later and questioned her about why she had not called him. Sparks flew this time and the pair began dating. They got married in 2004 at the Paca House and Garden in Annapolis.
Larry Hogan quickly fit in with his wife’s daughters. They call him “Dad,” and he walked at least one of them down the aisle at her wedding. On May 2, 2020, he shared a touching tribute to Yumi and their three daughters in an Instagram post: “16 years ago, I married my beautiful wife Yumi and gained three daughters: Julie, Kim, and Jaymi. These four incredible women became the best part of my life, and I don’t know where I’d be without their love and support.” The Hogans now also have four grandchildren.
3. Yumi Says Her Husband Encouraged Her to Pursue Art Degrees After They Got Married & She Now Teaches Drawing at the Collegiate Level
Hogan’s new husband encouraged her to go back to school after they got married and finally take the time to pursue her passion for art. She resisted at first, thinking she was too old. Although her daughters were grown by then, Hogan also still felt a responsibility to take care of them. Daughter Jayme Sterling remembered, “She came up with a lot of excuses. She didn’t really know how to do something for herself. And I think she felt guilty in a way.”
But Hogan eventually agreed that it was time to go after her dreams. She earned a bachelor’s degree in 2008 from the Maryland Institute College of Art. In 2010, she acquired a master’s degree in fine arts from American University. According to the resume on her website, Hogan also has an honorary doctorate of fine arts from Konkuk University in South Korea.
After earning her master’s degree, Hogan returned to the Maryland Institute College of Art as an adjunct professor in the drawing department. She has continued in that role ever since her husband became the governor of Maryland.
4. Her Landscape Paintings Have Been Featured In Exhibits In the United States & South Korea
The tone of Hogan’s artwork shifted after she returned to college. She used oil paints and was interested in creating abstract pieces with western-style materials as an undergraduate student.
But she adopted a more personal approach as a graduate student, according to the director of American University’s studio art department, Luis Silva. “Her work became … more connected to her background. By the time she left, I could see much more of her heritage,” Silva told the school’s magazine in 2015. “She was using Asian techniques, but at the same time she had a bit of Western influence. It’s really a melding of her two worlds.”
Hogan’s preferred medium is Sumi ink on Korean hanji paper, and she primarily paints landscapes. She teaches this method at the Maryland Institute College of Art. Hogan described using the material on her professional website:
Representing the strength and historical tradition of the Korean culture, I find Hanji paper to be the most resilient and best accepting of Sumi ink. Sumi ink and Hanji paper are definite Korean traditions as the layers of translucent ink on the textured Hanji paper build stories of life and culture. Many of my works combine the traditions with my present Annapolis landscapes.
Hogan’s landscape paintings have been displayed in exhibits around the United States and South Korea. She has won multiple awards for her creations, including the 2017 Ellis Island Medal of Honor, the Legaluppi Award for Excellence in the Arts, the Caruso Award at the International Juried Exhibition Circle Gallery in Annapolis and an honorary award from the 15th World Peace Art Exhibition in Seoul, South Korea.
5. Hogan Has Promoted Art Therapy as First Lady of Maryland
Hogan’s artistic influence and her South Korean heritage have been felt at the statehouse and governor’s mansion since she became the First Lady of Maryland. She brought her kimchi fridge when she and her husband first moved into their new home.
Her landscape pieces also adorn the walls at the estate, and she has a dedicated home art studio. At the legislative offices in Annapolis, Hogan has decorated the walls with a revolving collection of pieces from regional artists and local students.
In 2017, Hogan launched an art therapy program for patients at the University of Maryland Children’s Hospital. She explained that she chose the institution because of the positive experience she and her family had when Mr. Hogan battled cancer. “During my husband’s battle with non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, we had the opportunity to meet so many courageous pediatric patients and their families. Their optimism and positive energy inspired both of us, and it is because of these brave children that I am starting this foundation. Partnering with the University of Maryland Medical Center – where my husband received treatment, and where my grandson received excellent care in their NICU – made perfect sense.”
Hogan continued to visit cancer patients routinely after launching the art therapy program. The Herald-Mail reported in 2018 that Hogan taught some of the art classes herself.