Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Sliding home

I had my first calligraphy class today! Last night I came home and had a mild panic attack b/c I realized I only have three weeks left. This made me even more grateful to visit Jeong-In today in her studio. It's chock full of goodies - she collects fantastic work and has tons of art books (she showed me a few delicious ones today and I was smitten by this print that she had framed). It's so active: you walk in, and you know she is constantly working. There's that buzz of thinking, and making, and accumulating and feeding off of inspiration all around her. I love that kind of artist: super smart and informed, always finding things to look and learn from, able to clearly explain her own work, fun and generous, and a good host. We exchanged books (we had meant to do this since LAST summer and are only getting around to it now) and caught up. It's always special to see someone who has seen you through the whole journey - I had met her in my first few weeks here. Her spirit is solid and healthy and good to be around. We had yu-um Chinese food for lunch and I got to watch her make more "dung" balls - she peels her dried-up acrylic paint from her palette and rolls it into balls that she puts into containers based on color. She has the most green ones b/c she's a children's book illustrator, and there are lots of images of outdoor scenery in those books in Korea. I liked that.

We picked up her calligraphy teacher, who lives close to her studio, and drove back to Seoul for class with two other women. It's super chill and fun - they were joking about using coffee and sugar to grind ink on the inkstone. It was SO GOOD to do this today. I had met this teacher last fall and I had always remembered what he said about the relationship between calligraphy and hanji. I'm re-reading the end of the post that I wrote when I first met him, and find it hilarious that I felt like I had run out of time in October. Over half a year later, I've finally picked up the brush. It's pretty amazing, everything else that I get to learn in the process, since it's related to Korean. In a way, it's better that I do it now even though I'll be lucky if I get one more class in before I go, b/c I have the language and hanji training under my belt so I can fully appreciate standing and drawing straight lines over and over. I made a mistake while being too absorbed in Jeong-In's advice about what to say to get help in particular situations (if you are being attacked by a person, you have to yell "fire" rather than "help!" since no one will come out of a building for that in case they get hurt, too, but they WILL run out of the building to save themselves. If you can't get the vending machine to work, you have to call the company and say, "coins keep pouring out of the machine!" rather than, "it ate my money." They'll send someone RIGHT AWAY).

Afterwards, we went out for another yummy meal (we laughed about the illusion here: all the fish is on rocks) and then coffee. This is their Wed routine for them: class, dinner, and coffee with friends. It was great to be included today, and a super change from my usual Wed routine (weaving class). Plus, it was all in a neighboring hood, so getting home was quick. We had LONG and extensive discussions about my future, how to deal w/hanji issues, the sad history of Korean culture being thrown away by Koreans, reasons that Korea is not highly regarded by the rest of the world, racism, immigration, living abroad, how to get people outside of Korea more aware of the deep and valuable aspects of its culture, keeping the links vibrant between traditional and contemporary life, why big Korean companies like LG, Samsung, and Hyundai play down the fact that they are Korean, good and bad aspects of life here, etc.

All this to say, thank goodness that I get a breather tomorrow: I can sleep in! And I'm dying to make some work (actually, I also just have to; the deadlines are close).

1 comment:

  1. Holy cow, only three weeks left?! It's been an amazing journey. Thank you so much for letting us follow along...

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