Professor shares heritage, gratitude through art
Father Kapaun among her subjects
Tabor College assistant professor Shin-hee Chin expresses her love of family and her two countries through art.
The Korean-American artist has many accomplishments under her belt and is working on another feat sure to get attention.
In 2010, Chin had an art show, “Human Family.” By using pieces of cloth, she made murals of her family including her mother, father, husband, two children, and herself.
“The smallest community is family,” she said. “I wanted my children to understand how we came to America.
“From my nuclear family, I branched out and included local, national, and global families,” she said Tuesday.
Among the art pieces was a portrait of victims of human tragedies, including Sept. 11. This portrait contained 1,910 ballpoint ink portraits of people who died in the attack.
Chin also included pieces of the plight of the Korean “comfort woman.” Despite the name, 200,000 girls, ages 10 through 18, were forcibly removed from their homes during the Japanese involvement in the Asian-Pacific wars and served as sex slaves in Japanese military camps.
“What these girls suffered was worse than death sentences for them, as they would be disowned at home if they survived the ordeal, which was rare,” Chin said.
For 20 years, Chin had been saving family clothing for a quilt, which she recently finished.
Chin came to the U.S. in 1988. Her husband, Ku-Sup Chin, is a professor of sociology at McPherson College. Her children, Grace and Caleb, are students at the University of Kansas. The family makes their home in McPherson.
The 60th anniversary of the Korean War was June 2010. In honor of Americans who served in the Chins’ native land, Shin-hee organized an event to honor veterans in the McPherson area. It was four years in the making but Chin pulled it off, meeting veterans, hearing their stories, and sharing Korean food.
And now Chin is planning her next show — War and Peace. This show will portray ordinary people who can be peacemakers. Among those being recognized is Father Emil Kapaun, the Catholic priest from Pilsen who gave his life serving God and his fellow man in the Korean War.
The tapestry of cloth and stitching includes vertical stripes of red and blue to represent the virtues in the Bible verse, Psalm 85:10 — “Mercy and truth have met. Righteousness and peace have kissed each other.”
Chin is an evangelical, born-again Christian. Both of her grandfathers served as pastors in Korea, one of them was martyred with 500 other priests by communists during the Korean War.
The show will be homecoming weekend, Oct. 14 through 16, on the Tabor College campus in Hillsboro.
“I started with my family of three generations of ordinary women,” Chin said, including perspectives from her mother, daughter, and herself.
“War and Peace is not a political statement,” Chin said, emphasizing she is also not a peace activist. “I’m against any kind of war.”
However, if America had been pacifist, Korea would have been communist.
“This is more of questioning war and peace with no real answers,” Chin said.
Much research is part of Chin’s shows and this one is no different.
Also, in 2012, Chin’s work will be on display at the Eisenhower Museum in Abilene, which also includes her artwork of President Eisenhower.
“He was a father figure to Koreans,” Chin said.
After her showing last year, Chin received a grant to publish a book of her work, “Human Family.”
Chin teaches drawing and painting.
Chin’s artwork is an expression of her gratitude to ordinary people who have contributed to make the world what it is today.