Our first artist in residence at The Branch, Jeongran Choi brings some painstakingly created works of otchil and enamel from her home in South Korea. Most of us are not familiar with otchil — it goes by the name ‘urushi’ in Japanese, or ‘natural lacquerware’ in English.
By painting many layers of what is essentially sap onto a wood surface, otchil can make an ordinary wooden bowl last for thousands of years. Not an exaggeration, there are 7,000 year-old pieces still hangin’ in there, and 2,000-year-old pieces that still look brand new. Talk about sustainability. Natural lacquerware is stronger than any plastic or synthetic coating you could imagine — an incredible, ancient technology and artform.
Jeongran’s work, though every bit as delicate and time-consuming as other works of otchil, offers a bit more of a fun and lighthearted take on traditional methods.
Along with her whimsical otchil artworks, Jerongran packs our small gallery full of tiny drawings. Most of the works on display — excepting the otchil — are gifts for anyone who wants to take a memory home.
For her exhibition “Extraordinary Tales of Everyday Life,” Jeongran hides little artworks of various mediums all over the space. There are rabbits in the corners of the tiny library, persimmons on shelves, and even an urban nature landscape in the bathroom.
Visitors wander into the gallery throughout the exhibition, leaving with tiny artworks, going back to homes around our neighborhood, up to Tokyo, and as far as Turkey, Korea, France, Hong Kong, and Taiwan!
Jeongran wants us to celebrate the act of making and doing, without concern to discipline or medium. During her public workshop, participants make drawing diaries, they read stories together in their mother language, they make music instruments, roast coffee, and blend herb teas.
They share ideas about what the truly important things are, and how we can work toward those things each and every day.
Thank you Jeongran, for helping us see the beauty in everyday moments. Interestingly, it was sunny almost the entire time you were here, and your stay coincided with peak cherry blossom season (a super important and joyous time here in Japan), where nearly everyone including us went out to the park to enjoy sitting under the blossoms.
Jeongran Choi’s residency ran from
18 March 23–April 1, 2018
Follow Jeongran on Instagram @myomyo_log
More Images from Jeongran’s Residency
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