POSTED: January 24th 2013

PyeongChang 2013: Art Link Project connects the disabled with society

Lee Maro, 19-year-old artist explains his painting to Na Kyung-won, chairwoman of the Special Olympics Organizing Committee, at Insa Art Center in Seoul / Weekly Gonggam
Lee Maro, 19-year-old artist explains his painting to Na Kyung-won, chairwoman of the Special Olympics Organizing Committee, at Insa Art Center in Seoul / Weekly Gonggam


January 24 - The Special Olympics World Winter Games, a symbolic event for athletes with intellectual disabilities, is just five days away.

But the athletes are not the only beneficiaries of the sporting event. A number of parallel events planned by the Special Olympics Organizing Committee provide a significant chance for artists with mental disabilities to communicate with established veteran artists through their art pieces.

On January 7, the entrance of Insa Art Center, the venue for the Art Link Project, was decked out with a gigantic robot standing more than two meters tall which seemed to be overwhelming visitors. Rather than a weapon, the robot was holding a gift box filled with little robot figurines. This gigantic robot, named Super Guardian, is the brainchild of Park Tae-hyun, a 20-year-old artist with intellectual disabilities.

“Since he was very young, my son Tae-hyun loved robots featured on TV,” explained Tae-hyun’s mother, Kim Sun-hwa. “He used to draw them, or make them out of paper. The little robot figurines are what he hopes to have, and what he wants to give people as a gift.”

Art Link Project is a special exhibition held to mark the occasion of the Special Olympics World Winter Games PyeongChang 2013. The program provided ten disabled artists with ten professional artists as mentors, with each pair producing around 80 artistic creations including paintings, photography, sculptures, and installation work which were all on display at the exhibition.

A work by Dennis Han, a 37-year-old Korean-American, was also very catchy. Han caught meningitis when he was only a year and four months old, which caused his intelligence level to remain at the level of a five-year-old child. However he achieved his dream to be a painter, with the help of Sim Hyun-ji, who successfully played both roles as his mentor and his aunt. Dennis Han is already known in this field for his private exhibitions at the UNESCO Art Gallery and UN Headquarters in New York.

The parents of the disabled artists are also proud of their children. “From start to finish, I have seen through my son’s work as he communicates through the art pieces with his mentor,” said Seo Eun-ju, mother of Lee Maro, expressing her pride in her son who animated a scene of athletes playing winter sports against the backdrop of a snow-covered field in PyeongChang.

The unique creations, a blend of the inspired imaginations of the disabled artists and the wisdom of the established artists, were well-received by spectators too. “The works are both creative and entertaining,” said Lee Mi-seon, a 34-year-old visitor who dropped by the Art Center. “I was amazed to hear that it was created by artists with mental disabilities.”

Art Link Project consists of two parts: the first event came to a close on January 8, And the second event will be held during the Special Olympic Games at the Alpensia Convention Hall in PyeongChang, Gangwon-do (Gangwon Province).

Keywords · PyeongChang 2013 · Special Olympics · World Winter Games

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Laura Walden ()

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