info

Towards the last two months of my last visit to India in the spring of 2012, I encountered the Tibetan community in exile in India experiencing painful news of their people self-immolating in fire one after another in China-occupied Tibet. My experiences in the past visits in India (drawing a cremation site in Varanasi, documenting fire pits, cremation alters, and contemplating on life and death around fire) synchronized with this particular movement, an extreme way of ‘offering’ their bodies to ‘fire’ for asking freedom and peace.I could not help drawing large and small drawings as emotional response and with a sense of mourning.

After coming back to Vancouver, the self-immolation kept happening and I felt that my personal and professional task is not finished.

I have come back to India to continue to document and draw under the same theme. tomoyoihaya@hotmail.com

17 October 2020

The Unforgettable Faces : Artist Notes on Ms. Yoonmi Jeon and the work. Title: Peace River – Bridge – Reaching out hands Tributes to (Ms) Yoomi Jeon. Prayers to peace and reunification in the Korean Peninsula









 From the top:  
diagram for an installation as I could not go to Korea to do so. 

Production in progress in March and in July 2020.  It took 6 months to complete.

Details of Peace River

Lightful Peninsula ( a smaller work) 

A detail shot of the smaller Korean Peninsula, "Lightful Peninsula" has 5 bridges on it. Each bridge was drawn by my Korean friends in Korea and in Vancouver, printed out on Korean paper in small scale, and was laminated onto the map around the "38".  Bridges for a symbol of the ultimate reunification. 

Bak, Sosan
Choi, Sinae
Goo, Sooyeon
Lee, Myoung Jae
Pheon, Solan 
Goo, Sooyeon


I attach my artist note below: Artist Notes on Ms. Yoonmi Jeon and the work.

_______________________________________

Artist Notes on Ms. Yoonmi Jeon and the work.

Title: Peace River – Bridge – Reaching out hands
Tributes to (Ms) Yoomi Jeon (and prayers to peace and reunification in the Korean Peninsula.)

In the spring of 2020, Ms. Youngme Moon, the chief curator at Lee Hanyeol Memori-al Museum, sent me the following description, “The person about whom you are making art is Ms. Jung Yoomi, a Korean American, who devoted her life to bringing peace to the Korean Peninsula by bridging the gap between South and North Korea”.
In addition, I obtained photos and write ups from Ms. Moon and Mr. Ik Tae Kim (Ms. Jung’s friend) and a speech by Mr. Klein, Ms. Jeon’s partner. For almost 6 months, I lived closely with these photos and writings in my studio and from this experience I grew to feel that she was an open, warm hearted, passionate woman who was both empathetic and compassionate and possessed a strong sense of justice and a will-ingness to stand up for injustice.
Because of the pandemic and the lock down, I spent time by myself reading about her and imagining her nature and life, and studying about Korean War in depth.

To understand her life was to understand the Korean War and the Japanese occupa-tion of the Korean Peninsula in 1910 and all of the pain that the Korean people went through. It was brutal and merciless. While reading and talking with Korean friends about the Japanese occupation and the Korean war, I became sorrowful and heavy hearted with a strong sense of guilt about what my mother land had done to the people and land of the Korean Peninsula. Often I could not stop sobbing. It was a difficult process emotionally, mentally and physically to make art about her life of activism for her people and country because it was a tragedy caused by my country.

While contemplating how to represent her life and the theme of peace and reunifi-cation into a work of art and out of feeling such pain, the colour of white and a map of Korea as Jogappo and bridges transpired.

White to me is the colour of peace. Also, I read more than once, that Korean people are known to love the colour of white. Since I was young I have loved Jogappo, a traditional Korean patchwork, created by a member in each family as a pure art form and a symbol of everyday living. Making a map of the Korean Peninsula in the same manner as a Jogappo felt like a symbol of unity of many lives. Bridges came to mind as they can bring people on two sides together.

My initial vision was to have the Korean Peninsula, her portrait in Hanbok and her holding small bridges in her hands.

Later hands became an important symbol because of a Korean friend’s words. He expressed to me, “ What we need more is to touch (embrace) each other and hold each other’s hands, more than bridges.” I never forgot his face when he expressed his feelings so in end I added many cut out hands that reach out from south and north Korea to touch each other in the river.

Lastly a river of white waves, came to me after my Japanese friend introduced me to a song called “Imjin River” sung in both in Hanguel and Japanese. This song was about yearning for reuniting with loved one, wishing their dreams to the Imjin River of clear water.












































The 6th Unforgettable Faces@Lee Hanyeol Memorial Museum "Peace and Reunification", Seoul, Republic of Korea: September 24 to December 31 2020




 


Lee Hanyeol Memorial Museum in Seoul, Republic of Korea is opening an annual thematic exhibition called 'The 6th Unforgettable Faces'. I am humbled to be included in this exhibition as one of 5 artists.

Every year, under a theme, the museum chose 5 to 6 artists and Koreans who devoted their lives for Korean societies. This year marks the 70th anniversary of the Korean War and they set a theme 'Peace and Reunification" and chose activists who spent their lives for peaceful resolutions in Korean Peninsula.


Five 'faces' are:
Kim Sun Myong
Jeong Soon Deck
Lim Mi Young
Jeong Yoomi
Kim Seung Gyo

Five artists are:
Sun Mu
Noh Won Hee
Kim Ok Sun
Ihaya, Tomoyo
Kim Ji Gon

Lee Han Yeol Memorial Museum is a museum to remember and celebrate the life and the heroic death of student Lee Han Yeol. He was hit by tear gas canister in June 1987. This incident sparked the June Democratic Uprising bringing democracy to South Korea. Please visit our website to learn more about it at www.leememorial.or.kr/?tpf=memorial/face_list

Here is a person for whom I made art works for, title and a background of her. 

Title: Peace River – Bridge – Reaching out hands
Tributes to (Ms) Yoomi Jeon (and prayers to peace and reunification in the Korean Peninsula.)

"In the spring of 2020, Ms. Youngme Moon, the chief curator at Lee Hanyeol Memori-al Museum, sent me the following description, “The person about whom you are making art is Ms. Jung Yoomi, a Korean American, who devoted her life to bringing peace to the Korean Peninsula by bridging the gap between South and North Korea”.
In addition, I obtained photos and write ups from Ms. Moon and Mr. Ik Tae Kim (Ms. Jung’s friend) and a speech by Mr. Klein, Ms. Jeon’s partner. For almost 6 months, I lived closely with these photos and writings in my studio and from this experience I grew to feel that she was an open, warm hearted, passionate woman who was both empathetic and compassionate and possessed a strong sense of justice and a will-ingness to stand up for injustice. "

Please see the details of the works on the next blog post.


note:

Through my works on Gwangju People’s Uprising, which were exhibited in Cheonan City and Gwangju in 2019, I was offered an opportunity to exhibit a work of art for this years ‘Unforgettable Faces’ at Lee Hanyeol Memorial Museum.

I feel humbled and grateful for this opportunity. My connection to Korea has been a journey, a path I never dreamt of, starting from an old cemetery in Gwangju two years ago leading to a pathway to this exhibition.










14 June 2020

Ninjye 3  共苦 共感 Compassionate Empathy



                               
I feel your pain.  Ninjye - a Tibetan word to express compassionate empathy.

It is like your soul body overlapping with mine.

Breath in - I feel your pain and sorrow, I wish I could take away your pain and sorrow.

Breath out - I send you space and strength to your heart so as you can hang in there till pain and sorrow transform.

To you

To all forms of living beings.

To the mother earth.


copy rights - tomoyo ihaya 2020




24 May 2020

Guennam-Ro Blues 2019 for beloved women, feeling May Gwangju 1980

May is a sad month for many people in Gwangju. 
In May 1980,  students and civilians stood up for calling for a democratic reform against the dictatorship government that lead to the infamous Gwangju massacre.  

In this May,  in the far away land,  I think of women whom I spent a part of my every day life while in Gwangju last year around the Geunnam-Ro ( Ro means a big street in Hanguel), where major protests occurred.  Civilians, students, bus drivers in the buses, trucks, taxis all together marched on this street and shot to ground.  Women at the public bath, women who run small eateries, who were all kind to me, a foreigner who is from the country which had given so much sufferings to their people for decades up till now.  And a statue of a young woman.  A girl. 

One of the most experiences that engraved in my heart was seeing a newly built memorial statue of a ‘comfort woman,’ depicted as a young girl, in Geumnam-Ro Park. I encountered it in 2019 upon my second visit. Such statues are installed in many locations in Korea and abroad, serving as a symbol of remembrance and protest by Korean citizens against the Japanese occupation.  On my way to the host gallery and studio space I was working in, I passed by this statue daily.  The everyday encounter with the statue, time spent with hearty women at the public bath across the street from the park, and working on drawings became my regular routine during my residency.  

“Women and conflicts” permeated the experience and I left Korea that summer with feelings of pain and sorrow.

May is a beautiful season in Gwangju.  Full of green leaves.  Green grass.  Green Mudeun mountain. 
Yet many hearts' hidden wounds start remembering that time when green leaves get softly brown in wind.  

Just after two short visits, my heart aches. Many faces come into my mind.  

The amount of sadness in those who experienced that time is beyond my imagination. 

I can only pray for the true peace, freedom and healing will prevail in this land and in the world. 

2 May 2020

For Women - in Blue ( in progress)

For Women - I started writing.

A degree of feeling is too intense to express. Although a whole body is feeling something.

'Without women' ' threads of lives'
yet
'exploited' 'deep wounds'
'permeates through threads of histories'

All the women in the past and present I met in different countries last year.
Sharing open heartedness and tears.  Their sorrows that occasionally came out touched in a deep place in my achy heart.

Histories of women in conflicts, women who were wounded because they were women.

'empathy' 'reconciliation' 'compassion'

What to be women. 

Since last summer,  I have used only blue in my drawings.

Blue heals.








1 May 2020

Flowers and Stars for them on Sewol ship - April 16 2014


6년 전, 4월 16일

바다로 사라진 눈물은

밤하늘 가득 별이 되었고

상처로 가득한 마음을 비추는 별은

계속 빛이 나고 또다시 살아난다.

On April 16th, 6 years ago

Tears disappeared into the ocean

Became stars in the night sky

Shining to wounded heart

Stars keep shining and coming back to life again


______________

작년, 제 마음에 깊게 새겨진 기억 중 하나는 진도에 있는 팽목항에 다녀온 것입니다. 나무 언니는 저를 해남에서 목포역까지 차로 데려다주었습니다.

그날 밤은 아마도 보름달이 떠있었던 거 같은데 달빛이 바다 표면에 반사되어 보였습니다. 그 바다에서 목숨을 잃은 많은 아이들이 생각나 가슴 아픈 순간이었습니다. 나무 언니의 슬픈 모습 역시 가슴 아픈 기억으로 남아있습니다.

이것은 그들을 위한 기도입니다.

Last year, one of those memories that were engraved in my heart was passing by Jindo - Paengmok port.
My tree sister was driving me to Mokpo station from Haenam.
It was a night of maybe-a-full moon. The moon was reflecting on the surface of the ocean.
Poignant moment of thinking of young lives who lost their lives near there. A sad profile of Namo unni.

This is an offering and prayers for them.

17 February 2020

Remember Sonam and Choepak Kyap April 19th 2012

For Sonam and Choepak Kyap, who, together, self immolated on April 19 2012 in Barma township, Dzamthang county, Ngaba, Amdo, Tibet.

They carried out their protest close to a local government office.  Although paramilitary troops were deployed immediately, local Tibetans managed to prevent them from taking away their bodies and brought into Jonang Dzamthang Gonchen monastey.  The monks and local people kept gathering at the monastery to offer prayers for them, pushing the deployed troop away.

They were both nomads in their early twenties and were related.

They left a will behind.

" Tibetans have unique religion and culture that is based on a belief that with love and compassion, one should devote himself for others.  However at this moment,  Tibet has been ruled by communist China and are under suppression.  Tibetans' basic human rights were taken and we live in suffering.

With wishes that Tibet will be free and for the world peace, we will self immolate.
The pain of fellow Tibetans whose freedom have been taken is greater than our pain in the flame.

My dear parents, family and siblings, (the fact we will die today) does not mean we do not love you nor we want to be separated from you.  We do not take our lives lightly, either.
We are both clear mentally and with pure heart and thoughts,  we shall carry out this protest so as Tibet will gain its freedom, Buddhism keeps flourishing with wishes for all sentient beings' happiness and the world peace.

Please follow our last wishes  If our bodies are fallen under the Chinese authority, please do not go against them. Our wish is that no Tibetan gets hurt because of our protest.

Whenever you feel sad about our passings, please talk to the teachers and tulks in the monastery.  By doing so, please keep learning your culture and tradition. Please keep your love and trust to your fellow Tibetans, preserve the culture and stay united.  If you keep doing so,  some day,  our dream will come true.

May our last wish come true."

23 January 2020

Eyes of minds. Eyes of hearts. Jogappo 조각보

These eyes are of minds. Of hearts.
Eyes to see what can not to be seen
Eyes to witness injustice
Eyes to feel sufferings of others
Eyes to send prayers
Together


Nyingjey སྙིང་རྗེ་  means 'compassionate empathy'.  I feel your pain. I am here with you.  These eyes are eyes of Nyingjey.   A beautiful Tibetan word that I live with. 


This piece was made for the exhibition in Gwangju, Korea in 2019.  The theme of the exhibition was about Gwangju people's democratic uprising in 1980, which lead to massacre of students and civilians.  In 2018 when a group of friends from Gwangju taught me about the incident and took me to the old cemetery where courageous souls buried,  my heart was shaken like the time I first saw the image of a self immolating monk in 2012.

I was inspired by a traditional patch work in Korea called Jogappo조각
보.
Because not only I had known about and loved this form of Korean craft since I was a young girl but also this form of craft by accumulations of stitching struck me as a metaphor of people lives being together.  In every day life or in the struggle for dignity and freedom. 



20 January 2020

Together-ness (in progress)



While flipping old journals, I found a slogan by Tibetans in exile for a protest. I must have noted it down after being in one protest.
It struck my heart quietly, remembering memories of sharing sadness and being together with Tibetan friends during my long stay in Dharamsala in 2012.

མ་ཆགས་མ་ཆགས།
སེམས་ཤུགས་མ་ཆགས།
Ma chak ma chak 
Sem chuk
Namyang
Ma chak

Don’t give up
Courage
Never
Give up

Since towards the end of the last year,  I have been painting these blue figures. A phrase 'together, we feel together'  was on my mind during painting with blue.
I was thinking of countless humans who stood up for their freedom to be beaten up, arrested and murdered in many places in 2019 up till now.
Countless humans who are in prison and tortured.
Countless humans, whose basic rights to live with their cultural and social identities are denied and captured in detention. 
Countless women who were and are victims of sex slavery during wars and conflicts, whose dignity, hearts and bodies were broken into pieces.
Countless suffering.

Often the sense of overwhelmingness and helplessness dominate. 
What we can do with our small hands seem to be so limited.

The only thing I can do is to draw these.  To feel them.

Together - ness - to feel pain, to share, to heal, to grow, without any border between you and me.
A wounded tender heart is the strongest, the most courageous and the most compassionate that would never give up to heal and reach out to other hearts.  Hundreds, thousands of tender hearts are even stronger.  There must be a way that we can change how the world is.

Instead of shouting the slogan, we recite one another like a song of clear water and soft breeze.

不要放棄
勇氣

永不放棄

포기하지 마세요
용기
절다 포기하지 마세요.

諦めないで
勇気をもって
決して諦めないで



note: This caption, too, is still in progress. I am catching words.



12 January 2020

Remember Tenpa Darjey and Chimey Palden March 30 2012

For Tenpa Darjey, 22 yrs old and Chimey Palden, 21 yrs old, who set themselves on fire on March 30 2012  in Barkham, Ngaba, Amdo, Tibet.

They, both monks from Tsodun Kirti Monastery in Barkham, together carried out a protest in front of the prefectural government offices and were taken to the hospital.

Chimey Palden was declared dead on the next day of their self-immolation protest.
Tenpa Darjey passed away on April 7 at a hospital in Ngaba area.

Their bodies were cremated by the Chinese authorities and ashes and remains were handed over to their families after,  despite of fervent requests of their families and the monastery to return their bodies.

March 30, their protest day, happened to be the same day when Jamphel Yeshe's body was carried to  and cremated in Dharamsala after his self immolation protest in New Delhi.

http://www.phayul.com/news/article.aspx?id=31194&t=1