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Saturday,August 24,2019
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Thumbellina of Egg-art
 "I liked drawing cute characters and beautiful princesses when I was young. Do you know the story of Thumbellina? I loved to read that story, so I read it again and again.
  One day, I created my own picture book, "Thumbellina." It was not perfect or excellent, but I treasured the book. When I showed my own Thumbellina to my friends, they asked to borrow the book with the one voice. After that, I often made some picture books in my spare time."
  Nam Ji-une dreamed of becoming a famous painter. She enjoyed studying art. So her mother sent her to an art academy to develop her artistic ability. Nam won many prizes in art contests. Receiving the prizes encouraged her to study art after high school graduation, and she entered Applied Art College.
  The more she studied, the more she desired to study about handicrafts. So she went to Japan, which has developed manual arts better than Korea. Although there were many kinds of handicrafts, she chose Egg-art because of its unique materials and rosy future.
  At first, Egg-art catered to the nobility because it originated as luxury ornaments in Imperial Russian.  However, after passing from Europe to America, it became more common and acquired a fancy tendency in Japan.
  Nam Ji-une endeavored to add a Korean motif to Egg-art by using Korean folk painting and traditional jewelry materials such as pumpkin or mother-of-pearl. In the beginning, it was difficult to import ostrich's eggs; so, after returning to Korea, she formed her own handicraft group. The group eventually became nationwide and established the Korean Egg Art Association (KEAA) in 1993. KEAA offers various Egg-art courses and students can become qualified egg-artists through yearly examinations. Nam is Seoul president of KEAA and instructs many people in her own workshop.
  "To promote Korean-type Egg-art, students should make two traditional works the qualification tests. Making eggs in the Korean-style is most difficult because the students are required to draw delicate paintings as well as elaborate cutting. But I think that any art should include each nation's special features no matter than where it was originated. That is why I intentionally display Korean-type works in every exhibition and teach the style to my students."
  Oriental people generally prefer Western things such as pop songs, rap music, hamburger, coke, and so on. Westerners have a friendly feeling toward Orientalism as well. A few years ago, Nam's novel works whose subject was Korean flower cards attracted favourable attention in an exhibition held in Europe. In spite of not knowing how to play the flower cards, she frequently applies them to her art.
  The KEAA exhibition will be held from the 23rd to the 29th of this march at the Sejong Center for the Performing Arts. Nowadays, Nam Ji-une is creating typical works and Korean-types for the forthcoming show. Usually, fake jewelry is used in the arts. But for this show, Nam especially uses real traditional jewelries for her works to strengthen its folk beauty.
  "When I went to a zoo, I gazed intently at eggs of turtles, snakes, crocodiles and so forth. Ostrich, goose and duck's eggs are most commonly used because of the eggs’ firmness. So making handiwork with reptiles' eggs will be fun.
  It is a great pleasure to give myself up entirely to the art. Some people envy me because they only can do the art during their free time. But I do it all the time!"
  After work, she returns to the life of an ordinary housewife and mother of two daughters. She is good at cooking but not as much as her mother. Her mother was dexterous; so she made some clothes for her family by herself. Nam Ji-une said her dexterity was inherited from her mother.
  "Most people like Egg-art, and the art is progressing steadily and multifarious materials and subjects are being added. I'll spend my whole-lifetime with the art, too. In a few years, I'm going to move to the quiet countryside and do my art there. And, I want to breed egg laying animals by myself."
  Her life is Egg-art. As she keeps living her art, Nam Ji-une is the Thumbellina of Egg-art.

Son Jin-lee  jinlee17@dongguk.edu

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