The Ways of Wisdom
Shin Young-ok, Korean, born 1949
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Shin Young-ok is a fiber artist who transforms traditional Korean aesthetics into innovative contemporary works of art. In creating Ways of Wisdom, Shin used an entire volume of a nineteenth-century printed version of The Analects of Confucius, a text that records the thoughts of the Chinese philosopher Confucius. This text was central to the religion of Confucianism and extremely influential in Korea throughout the nineteenth century. Shin cut the book pages out of their original binding and attached them to handmade traditional Korean mulberry paper, which she then wove into scrolls with ramie and cotton threads. The five scrolls are in different colors, each representing one of the five elements of the East Asian cosmology: Water (black), Fire (red), Earth (yellow), Wood (blue), and Metal (white). The artist has presented this traditional format in a new way, standing the scrolls on a flat surface instead of hanging them on the wall or making them into a long handscroll to be viewed while being unrolled.