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Painting the loss in Jeju
Written by Kim Dongki | Published. 2019.04.22 21:00 | Count : 599
[Exterior of Jang Jong Soon Gallery. Photo Credit: Dongki Kim]
On March 15th 2019, I visited an art exhibition in Jang Jong Soon Gallery. This event was held by an art association “TheA”, named after a Greek mythology goddess, Thea: goddess of bright light. TheA was a group composed of six high school students from different international schools in GEC (Global Education City in Jeju). What was interesting about this art exhibition was their unique selection of topic that was different that of from other student held exhibitions. Unique in their own way, this exhibition’s theme was "Disappearing things in Jeju”. They were trying to portray the issues in the local Jeju community and bring awareness to them.
[The art exhibition’s poster. Photo Credit: Dongki Kim]
Thankfully, I had a wonderful opportunity to visit the exhibition with the help of the exhibition’s associates, and got some time to look at the group members’ artworks. From the moment I entered the exhibition, I was fascinated once again, by their exquisite choice of topic. When I took my first step inside the exhibition, I could easily spot ‘Haenyeo’, Jeju island’s traditional female divers, and fireflies that were nearly extinct. These two topics were significant matters that definitely needed more awareness for the preservation of legacy of local Jeju community. As a Jeju resident, this portrayal came to me as even more meaningful.
[Artworks by artist Johnny Kil. Photo Credit: Dongki Kim] 
[Artworks by artist Sunghyun Park. Photo Credit: Dongki Kim]
Again, as a student from Jeju island, I thought the exhibition’s intention to raise awareness of cultural heritage and natural assets that are disappearing was very worthwhile. They were not only respecting the Jeju culture, but they were also creating a new pathway for possible improvements for preservations. I could definitely see that their exhibition was not made fragmentarily for their university application, as they took a step further than simply presenting their artwork and ending it there. Impressed by their work, I interviewed one of the artists Johnny Kil, to find out more about the exhibition.
[Me interviewing artist Johnny Kil. Photo Credit: Dongki Kim]
Q. Where did you find your inspirations for your theme (Disappearing things in Jeju)?
“In an attempt to find something powerful and impactful to the current world that most of the people in Jeju can connect to, we decided to specify our theme to endangered species and disappearing cultures.”

Q. Why did you choose those specific themes (disappearing things in Jeju) for your artwork?
“The number of Haenyeos in Jeju is strictly decreasing, for the society has been modernized and their purpose became insignificant. To represent their wandering for living due to the loss of their jobs, I put screen-adjustment visuals inside of their water glasses.” 

Q. Are there anything better you would want to do for your next exhibition?
“For the next exhibition, I want the exhibition to be more interactive with visitors.”

In conclusion, their artistic skills and effort were also well reflected in their artwork as well as their noticeable choice of topic. For instance, the art piece “Destruction” by Seoeun Yu, was made with different materials rather than just paints, which helped to create the theme and vividly show it through rough textures of the materials. Also, the art piece “Firefly” by Sunghyun Park was made by using a wooden board instead of a campus, giving a very naturalistic feeling and making the theme “Firefly” stands out by allowing the viewers to feel more connected to the topic. I highly prize this exhibition for both their effort and intent, and I look forward to future projects by TheA.

Kim Dongki
Grade 11
Korea International School Jeju

Kim Dongki  student_reporter@dherald.com

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