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Korean Art in Canada-My Life, My Art

Time 0:04:14

(Translated from Korean)

When I went to university, I decided to study fine art. At that time, the war in Korea made everyone poor, so my family said, why study art? There is no money. Still I knew it was what I wanted.

At that time, the Korean art field was very contemporary. We learned Korean and Western modern art. In my third year, my teacher Chang Woo Sung invited us to his Traditional Korean Art studio. In one long brush stroke he created a hard rock, in another a very light feather. I felt the wind blowing through the branches he painted. With each brush stroke he created the whole world. When he showed our class, I was so impressed. I told him I want to learn from you. Each day after school, I went to his atelier and would grind the ink, and prepare the water. I was his apprentice for 10 years.

I was a high school art teacher, and my husband was a textile engineer, so both of us were settled in Korea, but all my brothers and sisters were in Canada and the US. We had 3 daughters, and we thought of their future. We joined my brother in Winnipeg, and 3 months later we moved to Toronto. I didn’t speak English. We had no money. We opened a convenience store, and I worked every day. Sometimes if it was quiet in the store, I would make plans for a new art class. But for many years there was no time.

Then, I had kidney stone surgery. For 3 months I stayed at home. One day my church minister, Sang Churl Lee said to me, this is the right time. I didn’t feel ready, but he said, while you are teaching, that will be your practise time.

I opened the Wol ho Korean brush painting and calligraphy institute. I taught classes for many years. My students and I have shared our work at the ROM Korean night, at the University of Toronto Open House, Western Ontario University Korean night, and many other cultural events and exhibitions across Toronto. I teach people from others cultures to use the brush at demonstrations. We share the Korean art and both of us are happy. My daughter and granddaughter have learned to paint as well, and three of my students are teachers now have their own classes. The classes are still going on, and I am so proud of that.

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