Tree Woman

The Tree Woman installation recalls my memories and experiences about trees. I have made drawings of women on the fallen leaves and bark that I have collected from hiking through the woods where I find comfort and peace. This Tree Woman installation offers the audience the sense of sight, smell and sound to free their imagination.

My education in my homeland Korea was based in Confucianism and Buddhism background. While I attended the modern public school influenced by Western culture, more than 5000 years old shamanistic culture is still practiced in the countryside. Many times I saw the Mudang (female shaman) shaking her body under a big tree to connect to the spirit world. These trees were sacred and respected.

During the Korean War 1950-53, our country was beaten and burned by Bombing. Our lives became harder with the shortage of supplies, food and housing. People chopped down trees for heating, cooking, and creating shelter. After the war we had a “Sig-Mok-Il” holiday (A National Tree Planting Day) , so we could participate in replanting the lost trees. Eventually, the mountains were recovered again with green leaves and trees. The country became cleaner and happier.

These memories came to my mind when I thought about making a piece for “Happy Tree Friends.” I thought of my grandmother and mother as “Mudang” female shamans. They shook their bodies hard to help my father who became disabled during the Korean war. They kept the house warm, nurtured the family and supported the children’s education no matter how little they had.

Ke-Sook Lee
April, 2009