Artist Lyu Chun-wha(’92, Clothing & Textile)’s first choice for major was not art. As she failed to qualify for her first choice, English major, she simply decided to try art as she liked to draw. Although she had some rough time in her university days, now as a fashion designer and a painter, her ranges of works contain from Korean traditional to Western and from clothing to paintings. Specifically, she is renowned for combining the essences of them.
As a student in Ewha, she was not a student who would look upon as a perfect student. She missed classes time to time, doing her own works. After realizing what she is interested in, Lyu did not hesitate to bull her way. Lyu interned as a designer at DAKS and worked as an illustrator at ELLE when she was an undergraduate. She also opened a hanbok (a traditional Korean cloth) store as a student. “Although I wandered around at my beginning years, at my junior year I saw historical drama on television called The 500 Years of the Joseon Dynasty. It illustrated and delivered hanbok to common people, who are not much familiar with hanbok anymore. Inspired by the drama, I fell in love with hanbok. Later on, I actually opened hanbok store making over 100 traditional Korean clothes and doing business while I was still on my studies,” said Lyu. “The store was quite successful; I managed it about three years all by myself. From the experience, I learned to choose and select good clothes, which I still use for my combining art works. Also, running a business as a student gave me busy but productive time,” she added.
In 1995, Lyu was granted to be a Korea’s representative for the France International New Designer Contest and the Russia Saint Petersburg Admiralty Needle Dress Contest for her illustration in fashion design.
Receiving the awards was a big influence in setting up her artistic views. Lyu realized what people want from her; it was a design the beauty of Korean culture. According to Lyu, Korea’s aesthetic is “harmony of those around us, such as clothes we wear right now.”
To include Korean beauty into her work, she decided to try combining painting. Combining painting is the new methodology Lyu has founded as she covered both Korean fashion and Western painting. To embark the new methodology, she drew Western paintings with sewing lines. Later, she used cut out clothing as important composition of the canvas, making a new style of painting. Lyu usually uses Korean traditional patterned pieces, shirts’ inside linings and corsages to mingle Western and Korean. “When I made hanbok I kept pieces, which I especially like. Shirts are from my brother,” said Lyu.
To produce such innovative art pieces, she finds her inspirations from her experiences and surroundings. “I usually get inspired from seeing landscapes and sceneries. I once lived in Heyri Arts Village in Paju, where I started dot painting. From experiencing new places, I get to extract new ideas,” said Lyu.
Lyu has recently published her fashion design book, Fashion Illustration, which shows her history in fashion design. The history contains from the start with hanbok fashion design, blend of Western fashion style, and to grafting the Western painting into her new methodology of fashion. Until publishing her first fashion design book, she held eight individual exhibitions to see her new method’s possibilities. After publishing the book, she held ninth exhibition about combining painting was at the Sejong Center for the Performing Art through August 30 to September 5. “Combine painting began as I decided to use up my collections of fabric. I also like sun and moon. You can see a lot of circles in my paintings.” She added as she showed her works from eighth exhibition.
“I hope students at the learning stage could broaden their range of work, expand their field of work as much as possible. I believe experience is most important. Specially, experiencing meeting with people you really are unaware and mind about your surroundings are the good experiences which will help you to become fuller of ideas and expand your capabilities. To be innovative, you need to experience what others never have experienced,” said Lyu.