Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Jeong-In's exhibit and afterparty

Tonight was great. I went to Jeong-In's opening - she was one of nine illustrators in a group show at Kyung-In Museum of Fine Art. She had a whole little alcove area for her work and did a great job of hanging it herself. This piece is about her late mother, and how in Korea you get a "good job!" stamp on your homework if you did it well. But she made that w/her smiling mother along w/a "hm, not so good, you could do better" stamp w/her frowning mother. How do you have a career and keep house immaculately at the same time? And the other pieces are all done on cardboard that she pinned up painstakingly (I saw that and my fingers felt all sore out of empathy), relating to the things we do close to the ground...actually, this is the part where things got lost in translation. I think it does fine w/o my commentary anyhow!!

These two are images of these balls of leftover acrylic paint (again, I could be SO OFF but I think that's right) that she has been collecting for years. If you look closely, you can see the illustrations she made of herself as a kind of dung beetle.


She also had the actual little balls in a small sculpture/installation box along with three structures: "house," "for living," and "freedom" (as in her home, her work as an illustrator, and her artwork as a book artist).

And older man saw me taking pictures of her with her artwork and insisted that he take one of both of us. I ended up going w/her and all of the other artists and other guests to dinner in the neighborhood, which was lovely. I had been talking to her eldest daughter, who is in college now (at her mother's alma mater!) and her youngest sister, whom I met when I first got to Korea, but ended up talking for a long time at dinner to a calligraphy master. We talked, of course, about hanji, but also about Korean traditions and why they die out but also why they won't completely die out. He said, Koreans are no ordinary people. Which is true: it's no joke to come out of seemingly endless years of oppression by other countries, colonization, war, and armistice and still retain a very distinct culture.

He said that I have to learn calligraphy to really understand hanji, since that was the main reason that paper came into being. The two have a strong relationship, with the method of making paper being created directly with the purpose of the brush and ink in mind. And so it unfolds - just as the Americans I met on Monday night said that learning Chinese characters would help so much in learning Korean. Agh. It all makes plenty of sense, and I would love to do it all. But I can only do so much, and am already feeling like I have run out of time!

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