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MARCH 2008

This month we asked calligrapher Dojun Jung, who had a solo exhibition in February, to write about his experience working with Tenri Cultural Institute.

The artist (second from left) with his family

With Korean Consul General Kyung-Keun Kim at the opening

Good Fate
by Dojun Jung, Calligrapher

When I visited Tenri Cultural Institute in New York four years ago I didn’t know anything about Tenrikyo. A friend of mine, a newspaper editor in Korea, told me about a very nice gallery exhibition space and recommended that I pay them a visit. So I did and was introduced to Reverend Okui, who gave me a tour of the space.

As a calligrapher, New York was uncharted territory for me. Although I’ve had numerous exhibitions in Seoul, and in Europe—ten shows in Germany, France, and Italy over the past eight years—doing my first show in New York seemed like a daunting task. My first exhibition in America occurred in the winter of 2006 when I was invited by the Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art in Oregon to present some of my work. The show was a success and the museum ultimately decided to purchase six of the 90 works for their permanent collection. Coincidentally, that same zyear, Dr. Thalia Vrachopolous, curator of Tenri Cultural Institute, visited my atelier in Seoul and I had accepted her proposal to do my first show in New York at Tenri Cultural Institute.

My past shows have mostly been at museums and other very spacious sites where I would exhibit somewhere between 80 to 110 pieces. Over the years, I have presented Korean calligraphy in Europe with a variety of materials in addition to paper, including silk, pots, and fans. In comparison to the past spaces, Tenri is a smaller space, but it has high ceilings and a relaxed atmosphere, and its beautiful architecture presented an ideal exhibition space. For this exhibition, I attained the floor plan of the space and was mindful of the walls’ measurements as I spent a year and half creating the pieces. Arriving in New York, I breathed a sigh of relief when I saw that my pieces fit well with the space. I was slightly worried about exhibiting only a handful of pieces this time, but such worry dissipated with the encouraging words from visitors and critics. I was reunited with Rev. Okui after the installation was complete and, once he discovered that I was The artist (second from left) with his family the same calligrapher who had visited four years ago, he expressed his delight in the fact that the exhibition had come to fruition. Rev. Okui and his staff were very kind to me and my family throughout and we didn’t have a single glitch in putting up the show. The staff members attended the party after the opening and they became friendlier and closer to me as I spent more time with them. There was no friction from the fact that I was Korean and of a different religion and they were Japanese. We became convinced that we could both be great friends.

Frankly, I do not know much about Tenrikyo. But there is something I can say for sure, and that is all the Tenrikyo people I have met are very kind and considerate. We use the word “inyeon” or “fate” in Korean a lot. I take it to mean that people you meet in the present life you have already had some kind of a connection with in a past life. So, in that sense, I believe that it was fate that I was able to meet Mr. Yuge, Rev. Okui and the staff members of Tenri Cultural Institute. My family and I are sincerely grateful for their hospitality and kindness, and we will wish for their continued success and happiness.



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