Huh Dong-hwa, environmental artist and director of Museum of Korean Embroidery / Courtesy of Museum of Korean Embroidery
By Chung Ah-young
Age is a mere number for Huh Dong-hwa, a "bojagi" (wrapping cloth) collector and artist who turned 89 this year.
The artist has vigorously produced his artwork recycling cloth scraps and other items to protect the environment since he held his first solo exhibition in 1999.
As an ecological artist, he has created various objects and collages reusing the materials describing the natural world and art for decades.
Currently, he is holding an exhibition displaying some 40 collages made from cloth scraps and paintings, which were drawn on items that were thrown away, inspired by abstract patterns of traditional Korean bojagi.
The exhibition, which will continue through Aug. 15 at the Museum of Korean Embroidery, includes his newest creations.
"Bojagi is an eco-friendly art form as it saves the environment through recycling. I have created art works using fabric scraps or painted on the abandoned farming tools to cater to that eco-friendly purpose," Huh said.
An artwork using fabric scraps by Huh Dong-hwa / Courtesy of Museum of Korean Embroidery
Also, known as the director of the museum, he has hosted more than 100 exhibitions both at home and abroad since its opening in 1976. He has a collection of some 3,000 items of traditional Korean embroidery such as bojagi, folding screens and blinds.
He has a special attachment to "jogakbo," a kind of wrapping cloth in patchwork, which reveals the past lives of Korean women, who express their woes and pathos through piecing together fabric.
"The jogakbo's abstract patterns and unique colors have inspired me to create art. I am honored to be called an environmental artist although I have never received an art education," he said.
"I pursue simplistic aesthetics in my creations using lines and squares," he said. The museum is currently holding an exhibition showing some 80 pieces of bojagi and other fabric art works, which were previously shown in Japan and Turkey.
Huh has contributed to promoting traditional Korean bojagi around the world. "So far 7 million people have seen our bojagi exhibition both at home and abroad. We are making efforts to attract more people to enjoy traditional Korean beauty," he said.