Ewha's Professor Shows that Chicken can be Art and not always Food
Ewha's Professor Shows that Chicken can be Art and not always Food
  • 한정수 기자
  • 승인 2007.03.02 00:00
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Chickens have always been considered as food. Have we considered them as things other than food? Pets-sometimes. Anything else? Nope. Well, newly opened as of last December 19, Seoul Museum of Chicken Art presents a completely new view that chickens can be art. Retired emeritus professor ofEwha Womans University, Kim Cho-kang (Public Health) proudly displays her extraordinary adoration for chickens.

Located in northern Seoul in Gahoe-dong, which is within a five minutes’ walk from Anguk station (Line 3), Seoul Museum of Chicken Art accommodates a unique collection of chicken art from Asian antiques to internationally collected contemporary sculptures and paintings most of which are personal collections of professor Kim. The collection of craftworks meets no boundary from a teacup engraved with a chicken pattern to an ancient hairpin used by courtesans, also illustrated with a chicken. People cachinnate in front of the international chicken collection because every little piece so well represents the very image of each nation and then gasp at the beautiful, detailed glassworks of various breeds of chicken.

“We thoughtlessly address cowards as chickens and snatch the barbequed chicken wings from lovers’ hands believing the false superstition in Korea that chicken wings make one to flirt and be unfaithful to the lover. I wanted to remove the misunderstanding surrounding chickens that have provided so much for humans as foods, pets, and spiritual companions,” said Kim who diligently traveled around the world using her vacation time to collect her beloved chicken art crafts, which she now reckons to consist of more than 8000 pieces. Besides, discovering the fact that no chicken museum had ever been established all throughout the world, Kim was more than determined to be the first in building one and registering it as Korean heritage.

Exploring through both Asian and Western chicken art’s history, people can examine the real meaning of this domestic foul to mankind. Chickens have acted as guides and lucky icons regarding their supernatural power as spiritual beings, but overly distorted are their images in contemporary society as detestable figures or relishes for beers. Each piece of art in the museum holds a special cultural meaning or tells an interesting fable, all of which visitors can hear from the director Kim Cho-kang. She also created a cozy café on the first floor of the museum for people to converse freely with each other or even with Kim herself, after viewing the exhibition.

The gallery changes its themes four times a year promising patrons something new to see upon their visits. Until the end of the March, the exhibition focuses on “Facial Expressions” of chickens, so it might be amusing to find various facial expressions of chickens which we have never noticed in our daily lives.

Aside from the Chicken Museum alone, there are many other unique museums and galleries to visit in Gahoe-dong that primarily present traditional Korean craftworks. For instance, Gahoe Museum, which was converted from and preserves the layout of a traditional Korean-style house, is said to be very popular among foreign visitors. The museum is currently holding art exhibition on peony blossom pictures. Activities like making a rubbing drawing and engraving traditional patterns on T-shirts are also possible at the Gahoe Museum. The Museum of Chicken Art and most of the small-sized museums of Gahoe-dong receive no more than 3000 won as their entrance fee. “Today, many young people undervalue our traditional culture and only strive for accessing imported trends. In this Museum of Chicken Art , they can readily enjoy how our ancestors had shared their history with chickens and perceive the superiority of our craftworks when comparing them with that of other nations. Quite many of these galleries in Gahoe-dong are struggling from financial deficits and asking for attention of people. This is the place where people can enjoy a real tradition, high-quality cultural life,” added Kim beseechingly.

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