Sun H. Choi - February 2010

Nostalgic Memory

Making traditional medicine is very labor intensive, requiring watchfulness, prayer for the patient, an attention to heating. Traditionally, mothers, solely, selflessly prepared the medicine for their loved ones.  Modern Koreans no longer take the time to prepare their own medicine.  Instead they buy it from shops which mechanically do all the work of slowly cooking the herbs and extracting their juice. When Koreans see or smell kam cho these days, they feel nostalgic for an almost extinct way of life. In my artwork, I use different but no less painstaking methods to combine these elements of both actual and symbolic healing. I transform traumatic memories, difficult experiences and pain into works of beauty and healing.

Medium: Slices of the Kam cho root, an essential ingredient of Korean traditional medicine. It is included in every traditional Korean herbal medicine because of its detoxifying qualities, functionality and harmonization with other therapeutic herbs.

There is a Korea saying, "he is like kam cho", meaning that he is needed everywhere and by everyone. They need him for harmony, elimination of negative energy and good results. Kam cho is like a support actor upon whom the star is dependent. 

The taste of this root is very bitter, but its effects are healing. The taste is multi dimensional, just like our minds and our memories. This complexity is necessary for our maturation, just as pain is, but it can lead to beauty, like a pearl cultured from an oyster. Like our memories, kam cho is bitter and sweet, essential for growing strong, wise and beautiful.

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