Life Lesson Taught through Bojagi Lee Seong-sun, Professor Emeritus (Fiber Arts Department)
I understand that you have sublimated Bojagi, Korean traditional cloth wrapper, into a work of art and introduce it to the world.
At first, I approached fiber arts in the light of fine art. Then, in 2000, I had a chance to spend my study year at my alma mater, the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, where I experienced a cultural shock. Seeing the big shift in the global art market, I came back to Korea and decided to choose Bogagi to make it famous all over the world.
Why do you choose Bogagi of all others?
The material I use for my bojagi work is ramie, and the ramie has natural transparency. I think ramie is the material that best expresses the nature of textiles because whether it's a work of art or one's daily life, transparency, as does human, shows the true nature of things. Bojagi resembles our lives in that it was made by putting pieces of white ramie together. It's attractive that different pieces of everyday life come together to complete one whole life.
You recently sponsored 70 million won for Lee Seong-Sun Scholarship. Is there any particular reason for your donation?
When I retired in 2008, I donated 30 million won as a scholarship, which was half of my severance pay. And I felt sorry for not continuing to do more. Fortunately, not long ago, the building I lived in for 50 years was redeveloped, and I suddenly got a lump sum of money. Seeing it as an opportunity, I added 70 million won to the existing scholarship and set up a fund of 100 million won in the name of Lee Seong-sun Scholarship. I felt so relieved to take my long-standing load off my mind. I am also grateful to my husband, who gladly helped me to unload the burden of my life.
I grew up in a Christian family and donated money to the church when my parents gave me an allowance. Anyone who's ever made contribution will understand what I am saying. The money in my hand is not mine.
When do you feel rewarding as a sponsor?
I received a letter from a scholarship student from the College of Art and Design for the first time this year, which really touched my heart. In the letter she said, “It was hard for me to pay for the materials every time I made some pieces, but this year, I'm really happy to be able to concentrate on the work without such concerns. I can make the best graduation work.” In fact, material expense rather than tuition is much more of an issue to students of the College of Art and Design. The fact that my little aid becomes a big help to Ewha students alone makes me feel rewarding. I would like to return the love and gratitude I learned from Ewha to other Ewha students for many years to come.