Small Works of Art in the Forest

Autumn is here, and last Saturday we took the subway out to Yangjae Citizen’s Forest, an urban forest in the southern part of Seoul to join a seasonal festival called “Small Works of Art in the Forest”.

Participants in a “Nature Art” workshop led by Suhee Kang and Patrick Lydon at Yangjae Citizen’s Forest in South Korea make artworks using color from natural materials gatherd in the forest. (photos by SocieCity)

We led three workshop sessions during the day, all of them using natural materials from the forest floor as paints.

A good friend of ours, American artist and filmmaker Patrice Milillo, joined us on the day, and as the morning mist cleared we ventured out with him to gather berries, leaves, stones, flowers, and other materials. His remark about this process of gathering materials was typically to the point “So the forest is our art supply store today?”

Indeed. It was, and it is, every day. “No need to buy art supplies here” I concurred. “Nature has everything we need.”

A mandala forms the center of the table (and color palette) during our nature art workshop at Yangjae Citizen's Forest in South Korea. (Image by SocieCity)

We decorated the tables with mandalas made from natural materials, and had the participants – young kids, parents, and a even some intrigued college students and office workers – join in taking pieces from the mandala to use directly as pigments for their artworks.

There are only two rules we have at these kind of workshops:
1) Realize each material as precious, and use it with gratitude, giving thanks to nature and the lives in the forest which produced the material.
2) Try not to judge yourself or others, simply feel and let your work come to life.

The day was one of those perfect-weather days for being in the forest, warm sunlight filtering through pine needles and leaves above, a calm breeze running through the branches. In this setting, rubbing, squeezing, and banging their way along, the participants produced vivid works that reflected the Autumn season’s color palette.

A child paints with natural materials during a SocieCity workshop at Yangjae Citizen’s Forest in South Korea (photo by SocieCity Collective)

Kids, as always, had endless fun with this, and yet we also noticed one father who was extremely focused on experimentation and constantly amazed with the outcomes. It seemed like he may have been having even more fun than his son!

For a more sensory experience of the festival, have a look at the humorous and  entertaining short film that Patrice Milillo (Director of the Art is Power organization) made about the day…

Thank you to everyone who participated, to the city for their support of this wonderful event, and to Eunhee Shin from Value Garden for inviting us here.

Patrick Lydon and Suhee Kang pose for a photo during their nature art workshop at Yangjae Citizen’s Forest in South Korea (photo by SocieCity)

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