Sunday, 23 September 2012

The Korean Martyrs

Icon, "St. Andrew Kim Tae-Gon, Priest and Martyr",
by the hand of Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2012

In the early 1600s, Christian communities began to flourish in Korea.  However, these Catholics were led by lay people until the early 1800s.  From the beginning there was hostility towards believers in strongly Confucian Korea.  During the persecutions of the mid-19th century, over 10,000 Christians were killed.  Included was Korea's first native-born priest, St. Andrew Kim and St. Paul Chong, a catechist and seminarian.  In 1984, Blessed Pope John Paul II canonized these two men along with 101 other  Korean martyrs including clergy and lay, young and old.  Their memorial feast day is September 20th.

Since I had worked on these icons some months ago, I wanted to post them this year on the feast day.  Unfortunately, the feast day was this past Thursday, the day after I did the posting on the "Flowers of Central America".  So, rather than wait for another year, I am posting them today!
[Just a note:  both these icons have the same background which was not drawn by me.  I used a Korean print from "free art" as it seemed to me to be much more effective than the more traditional types of backgrounds.]

Text written by St. Andrew Kim Tae-Gon
St Andrew Kim Tae-Gon (1821-1846) was the first Korean-born Catholic priest. In the late 18th century, Roman Catholicism began to take root slowly in Korea. It was not until 1836 that Korea saw its first consecrated missionaries (members of the Paris Foreign Missions Society) arrive, only to find out that the people there were already practicing Catholicism as best they could without a priest.

Born of yangban*, Kim was baptized at age 15. Kim's parents were converts and his father was subsequently martyred for practising Christianity, a prohibited activity in heavily Confucian Korea. After being baptized himself, Kim was sent to study at a seminary in the Portuguese colony of Macao. He was ordained a priest in Shanghai after nine years (1844) by the French bishop Jean Joseph Ferréol. He then returned to Korea to preach and evangelize. During the Joseon Dynasty, Christianity was suppressed and many Christians were persecuted and executed. Catholics had to covertly practise their faith. Kim was one of several thousand Christians who were executed during this time.
*The yangban were either landed or unlanded aristocracy who comprised the Korean Confucian idea of a "scholarly official." In reality, they were basically administrators and bureaucrats who oversaw ancient Korea's traditional agrarian bureaucracy.

In 1846, at the age of 25, he was tortured and beheaded near Seoul on the Han River. His last words were:
"This is my last hour of life, listen to me attentively: if I have held communication with foreigners, it has been for my religion and for my God. It is for Him that I die. My immortal life is on the point of beginning. Become Christians if you wish to be happy after death, because God has eternal chastisements in store for those who have refused to know Him."
Paul Chong Ha-sang

Icon, "St. Paul Chong Ha-Sang, Seminarian and Martyr",
by the hand of Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2012
Paul Chong Ha-sang (1794 or 1795–September 22, 1839) was one of the Korean Martyrs. He was the son of the martyr Augustine Jeong Yak-Jong and a nephew of noted philosopher John Jeong Yak-Yong, who were among the first converts of Korea, who wrote the first catechism for the Roman Catholic Church in Korea (entitled "Jugyo Yoji").

When Yak-jong was martyred with Ha-sang's older brother, Yak-jong's wife and the remaining children were spared and went into a rural place; Ha-sang was seven years old.

When he grew up, Ha-sang chose to become a servant of a government interpreter; this enabled him to travel to Beijing multiple times, where he entreated the bishop of Beijing to send priests to Korea, and wrote to Pope Gregory XVI via the bishop of Beijing requesting the establishment of a diocese in Korea. This happened in 1825. Some years later, Bishop Laurent-Marie-Joseph Imbert and two priests were sent.

The bishop found Ha-sang to be talented, zealous, and virtuous; he taught him Latin and theology, and was about to ordain him when a persecution broke out. Ha-sang was captured and gave the judge a written statement defending Catholicism. The judge, after reading it, said, "You are right in what you have written; but the king forbids this religion, it is your duty to renounce it."

Ha-sang replied, "I have told you that I am a Christian, and will be one until my death." After this Ha-sang went through a series of tortures in which his countenance remained tranquil. Finally, he was bound to a cross on a cart and cheerfully met his death, at the age of 45.



I received a very interesting email this past week about the type of flower drawings I present to you occasionally which I label as "inversions".  I had not thought much about this technique until I received the following emails.

Dear Sallie, My name is Svetlana, and I am writing to you regarding your artwork I came across at Tillandsia cyanea "Pink Quill", drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2011.
Tillandsia cyanea "Pink Quill"
using inversion technique
This particular work is interesting to me because of the “invert”-technique you are using in it. I am an artist too and have been utilizing similar techniques in many of my own works because I believe inversion, like metaphor, is a technique with a great creative potential, the technique, however, almost unknown to a wider public. That is why I decided to start up an online gallery where people can not only learn about conceptual basis for what I called “Inversionism,” but where different artists and photographers who share ideas associated with Inversionism can exhibit their own artworks or photographs. This website is a noncommercial enterprise,and its sole goal is gathering together creative people who work within versions and providing avenues for public recognition of the ideas of Inversionism. Please look at my website and see if you would like to take part in it:   Sincerely, Svetlana.

Dear Sallie, It was very excited to hear from you! If you send me your artworks where you are using inversions, I would love to post them at my web site. Please, also send me the titles, sizes, media and something about yourself and/or what you think about inversionism. As for your readers, I would appreciate if you share with them my web site address  - because I am looking forward to discussing all the different ideas regarding art and inversionism with people!

[The following comments by Svetlana are in response to my remarks in my response to her second email.  I wrote: "I use very simple software which basically allows me to draw and colour. Shading is very difficult and transparency is impossible. I understand that there are much more sophisticated types of software, but I am concerned about how much of my creativity the computer software might take away from me. It is a dilemma."]
As for graphic software, I think there are a bunch of tools in some of the programs, such as the notorious Adobe Photoshop, which simply imitate those basic tools which are used in, so to speak, "physical" painting/ drawing as opposed to "virtual." In this case, the amount of creativity which these types of software would take away from an artist are the same (if not less - a software usually is far from being a perfect one-to-one imitation of "real" tools) as when one uses a "real" brush, or chalk, or oils... with an opportunity to imitate all the different effects of "real" painting / drawing, including transparency or shades. This is just my humble opinion, although I must admit that part of the uniqueness of your style is in your ability to work with very strong and saturated colors! Best, Svetlana

Following is an example of the type of work she is referring to:

--Original using natural colours  
"Arethusa bulbosa Dragon's mouth"
drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2012
Inversion technique with "unnatural" colours
Inversion of "Arethusa bulbosa Dragon's mouth", Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2012

If you are interested in pursuing this topic, go to the web site and look at the drawings and comments in the artist's gallery.  I would be very interested in knowing your opinion of this technique.



"G'day mate.   Just checking in to make sure you are doing OK. Catch you later"

He looks to me as though he is doing as well as ever.  What a sweet guy he is.  Not that much longer now until I see him!



Knowing what you do of Suki, what do you
think is going on here?
In case you think that you are just looking at an ordinary photo of a cat sitting in a man's lap, allow me to enlighten you!

The man, a friend of mine, happens to be sitting in Suki's chair (it used to be my chair, but...).  Anyway, I warned my friend when he first started to sit down in the chair that sitting there could be risky, but he is a brave fellow and so he sat down anyway.

Suki at that time was supposedly sleeping away in her "crow's nest" bed in the bedroom.  However, within a short time after my friend sat down, here comes Suki.  She walks right over to my friend and sits herself down at his feet and begins her "staring at you until you get up and move" technique.  My friend, who shares his home with a cat, simply leaned over, picked Suki up and before she knew what was happening, she was sitting in his lap!

At first she simply sat there undecided about what to do; however, my friend had already started scratching her head in a way that she really likes and before she could regain the upper hand, she had started purring!  She had lost her battle to drive the intruder out of her chair and simply sat there quite happily enjoying the scratching and petting.  In fact, she stayed there until it was time for my friends to leave!

Once the chair was vacated, Suki made a great show of sniffing at the chair quite thoroughly before turning in a circle and settling down to rest in HER chair.  I laughed and told her that she was just a big "softie".  She closed her eyes and pretended to go to sleep -- the reason I say "pretended" is because soon after this I went into the kitchen and suddenly there was Suki at my feet asking for a refill of her food dish.

As for Sallie, she is doing fine.

It is 5 a.m. on Sunday morning, September 23, 2012.  I awakened a short time ago -- without any help from Suki!  She was delighted, of course, to hear me arising and promptly got up as well.  Within a very few minutes, I found myself in the kitchen preparing Suki's breakfast!  I am, indeed, well trained.  Now I am preparing to finish off my blog posting for today although I think I may decide to take a short nap and get up once again at a more reasonable hour!

Now it is a little over an hour later and Suki and I have had a good rest.  Yes, as soon as I stretched out, here came the cat to join me.  Within a few minutes, we both had fallen asleep.  Suki, by the way, is now feeling very frisky as she busily chases her tail!

The day before me looks very peaceful.  The team bring Holy Communion to the Catholics in my building who have difficulties attending Mass (sadly, that includes me) will be here shortly after 1 p.m.  So sometime this morning I want to go to the gym for a "soft" workout.  Now, however, it is time to finish this posting and go and have some breakfast!

May the peace of God be with us all on this holy and blessed day, the 25th Sunday in Ordinary Time.  And I ask that the Korean Martyrs and all the saints in the Church Triumphant will pray for us and for all the many needs of this world.  Amen.


P.S.  Here is an icon of the Madonna and the Child Jesus that I came across in my files.  I don't believe I have ever shown it to you and so I have tacked it onto this posting.

Icon, "Madonna and the Child Jesus (a study in blue)",
by the hand of Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2012

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