The University Museum"s special exhibition "Another Way of Seeing" aims to drive this point home by placing on display the uniquely unadulterated and serious works of art created by blind children from Korea and Japan.
The exhibition, titled "Another Way of Seeing," is held annually both here and abroad. This year marks the fourth time the show was held in Korea. Besides the 15 pieces from three Korean schools for the blind, 15 pieces were supplied by the Tom Gallery of Tokyo, Japan, which specializes in showing works of blind children. The exhibition will run until November 30 at the University Museum, and will also feature five-minute cuts of the artist children taking art lessons.
"Carrying a Blind Friend on the Back" is the title of the sculpture selected as the representative work of the exhibition. Made by Lee Sang-ji, the clay sculpture shows a person carrying a smaller person on the back, both with big smiles on their faces. Lee Yoo-mi (89, Sculpture), a teacher at Hanvit School for the blind, explains, "The person who is holding the smaller one is actually disabled, too. There are different degrees of blindness and the children who have even minimal eyesight, however weak it may be, help the ones who are totally blind. This sculpture captures the beauty of that powerful inter-relationship."
The other works are just as heart-felt and warm. "The Welfare of a Construction Worker by Noh Jong-hoon is a sculpture of a man holding three heavy-looking sticks on his shoulder. The boy had never seen the model for the sculpture (his father) working, but by smelling his clothes and touching them, he had understood the difficulties of his father"s?profession. Another interesting sculpture is that of a foot, in which the Achilles tendon is exaggerated. Such small details that can be felt through touch are important to these young artists.
A striking difference can be perceived between the art pieces produced by the Japanese children and those made by the Korean children. The Japanese works are much more abstract and the materials used are diverse and colorful. For example, one Japanese piece depicts a real rock surrounded by seaweed-colored tangled yarn, expressing the artist"s feelings about the Sept. 11 attack. However, the Korean pieces are mostly made out of clay or wire and are more simplistic. Commenting on this, Lee says, "The Japanese schools for the blind have much more highly developed education methods, and are better funded. I hope that Korean schools will be able to provide a higher quality of education soon.
Korean education for the blind may need to be further developed, but the five-minute film of the children working during their art class shows us that the enthusiasm of the kids is endless. To sculpt a face, the children tentatively touch their friends" faces, and one girl could be seen touching her own ear continuously while sculpting one, not even caring if her ear was covered in clay. In the film, the words of a little blind girl go well beyond the innocence of her age to sum up the meaning of the exhibition: "Why do people judge some people to be pretty and others to be ugly? People all look the same to me."