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Words into art

Yegam Art Space, a sunny new gallery in eastern Flushing, opened Dec. 15 in hopes of bringing the arts culture of Korea to the Flushing and Bayside communities.

Yegam, which is sponsored by Tang Restaurant, with which it shares a building at 196-50 Northern Blvd., started working toward that goal by opening with an exhibit of ceramic vessels created by a Korean-American woman from Woodstock, N.Y.

That progress continues this month with the gallery’s second exhibition, “Hangeul Blooms in New York,” Korean calligrapher Kang Byung-In’s first solo exhibit, which runs through Feb. 4. The event is unique because it showcases calligraphy — a well-known art of writing Chinese characters — done with hangeul, the Korean alphabet.

“This is the very first time introducing Korean calligraphy in New York,” said Yegam’s curator, Kim Ji-Yaang. “When you say calligraphy, even Korean people immediately think of Chinese calligraphy, but this is Korean calligraphy. It’s very rare in Korea, too.”

The show features small, square rice paper canvases that each showcase one word related to nature or emotion written in a manner that reflects the nature of the word. For instance, for the word “spring” Kang represents the traditional written Korean word for “spring” in a way that makes it appear as if it were a growing flower. The words are each accompanied by an original poem in Korean.

“For him, spring is like a seed that is planted and grows into a flower,” Domina Park translated for Kang at his Jan. 14 opening at Yegam. “Hangeul, or Korean, is a language that is like a seed.”

Pieces are available for $750 for originals, or $350 for prints. The exhibit also displays banners with his calligraphy, and products including books, alcohol bottles, and household items that Kang has created lettering for. Kang began his career as a designer and as such is very connected to that world in Seoul, his home in Korea where he runs a calligraphy institute.

Kang’s purpose and inspiration comes from the history of Korea, and an urge to want to spread its culture and instill a sense of pride in Korean people throughout the world.

“We were asking what motivates him, and he said the Korean language was created by a king for his illiterate citizens,” said Domina Park, who does public relations and administration for Yegam. “I think he hopes to follow that legacy in terms of Koreans’ appreciation and pride in their language and reclaiming their culture.”

For more information about Yegam Art Space, contact Park by e-mail at yegamart@gmail.com or by telephone at 718-279-7083.

Christina Santucci contributed reporting for this article.

If You Go

Hangeul Blooms in New York

When: Through Feb. 14, 11 a.m. - 9 p.m. Sunday-Thursday; Friday & Saturday 11 a.m. - 10 p.m.

Where: Yegam Art, 196-50 Northern Blvd. Flushing

Contact: 718-279-7083 or yegamart@gmail.com

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