Short Stories in Retribution: An art show
Nov. 23, 2010: a hotel room in Gangnam. I had been in Korea for a day when I found out that my father had suffered from respiratory failure. They had placed him in a medically-induced coma until they could see if he had suffered any brain damage. I went to my first day of job training.
Nov. 27, 2010: my parents’ anniversary. My mother tells me that I need to come home. The brain damage is severe and irreparable; my family has decided to take him off life support. I played him his favorite song over the phone for his anniversary gift, listening as “Stranger on the Shore” was punctuated by the beeps of an EKG monitor and my sobbing mother.
Christmas Day: I had travelled around the world twice in two weeks. I had watched my best friend die, and left him in a silver box next to a hole in the ground. I had seen my entire family dissolve as they argued over unchangeable events. Most notably, I had left my mother, the strongest person I know, a mess in an airport 7,000 miles away.
One year later
My girlfriend and I have been deciding what to do for Christmas. It was approaching the anniversary of my father’s death, and she had recently found out that her father was diagnosed with prostate cancer. Needless to say, it was going to be a difficult holiday season for the both of us. We both wanted to be with our families, but between our work schedules and financial situations, it wouldn’t be possible.
But then something amazing happened. A small group of people that work with my girlfriend heard about our situation. Being part of a Christian-based organization that does charity work, they decided to buy us tickets to our respective homes to be with our families. My girlfriend would get to see her father before his surgery, and I would get to see my father’s tombstone for the first time. My employer pulled strings to get me the time off, and with the help of all of these people, our dreams came to fruition.
Receiving such acts of kindness can’t help but change a person’s perspective. Since returning to Korea from that vacation, I have thought a lot about how fortunate I am. The last year my father and I spent together was by far my fondest. The last week we spent together was a road trip to the Grand Canyon. The last thing we said to each other was “I love you, man.” I was truly blessed with a fairytale ending to an amazing story.
So I have decided to make a body of art in response. This series is not a means of monetary retribution, but rather a means of showing the change that such acts of selflessness can provoke in a person.My father once told me, “Always leave a place better than the way it was when you got there. That way, if everybody does it, the world will always be getting better.” To the few anonymous people who made a sacrifice for me, know that you are doing just that.
The exhibit opening is on Saturday, May 12 at ONDA in Nowon, and begins at 6 p.m. The artwork exhibited will be two series done in ballpoint pen and oil paint. Admission is free; wine and hors d’oeuvreswill be free as well. The food is good, and bottomless beer is available for 10,000 won. Original work and prints will be available for sale. A donation box, as well as all profits made from all print sales will be donated to The Angel House Orphanage.
Directions: Go to Nowon Station, line 4, exit 9. Take your immediate right at Skin Food and continue straight for about 3 minutes. ONDA will be on the 3rd floor on the right hand side.