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Did you know that almost 100 different languages are spoken in Los Angeles? One of the great things about living here is being able to travel around the world without having to leave the city. Of course, you can travel around the world without even leaving your home if you do it through the pages of a book. Linda Sue Park takes us not only around the world but back to the 12th century in “A Single Shard,” the story of orphan boy Tree Ear who learns to be an artist. Tree Ear starts the story as a beggar, who starts to work for a local potter, Min, after watching him make pottery. When the Emperor’s emissary comes looking for the best art in the kingdom, Min sees this as his chance to get a royal commission. Min is too old to make the trip, but Tree Ear offers to go -- and he gets up his courage to ask Min if he can apprentice with him, learn how to make pottery just like Min does. Min should say yes -- but he refuses. Only his son, he insists, can be his apprentice, and his son is dead. Tree Ear is crushed, but because Min’s wife has been so kind to him, he volunteers to take Min’s pottery to the capital anyway. Unfortunately, Tree Ear is attacked by robbers on the way. They throw Min’s beautiful pottery over a cliff, and it shatters into a million pieces. All Tree Ear can ﬁnd is a single shard of what was once breathtakingly beautiful. Tree Ear, who has been badly injured, faces some difficult decisions: Should he take the single shard to the Emperor, or just give up? What will he tell Min when he returns home? Tree Ear will learn lessons of courage, perseverance, and integrity before he makes his way home again.
After reading the book, we wanted to experience some Korean pottery for ourselves. Fortunately, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art let us explore the world of Korean art both visually and experientially. We started off by visiting the Korean art pavilion, where we saw some beautiful pottery, including celadon pottery just like Tree Ear learned to make. We appreciated it so much more now that we knew what goes into making it! The Korean art gallery also includes beautiful scrolls with incredible brush work and currently, visiting Korean conservators and restoring an 18th Century Korean Buddhist painting. We confess, though, our favorite artifact that we saw there were the incredibly intricate and lovely ladies’ hair pins -- with tiny spoons on the end for digging out ear wax(!). Housed in the Korean art pavilion is the Boone Children’s Gallery, a beautiful open space where we sat down to do some Korean brush painting of our own. Wonderful workers from the museum were on hand to get us started and explain how to use the different types of brushes with the tempura paint. We painted some trees and ﬂowers, and tried to match some of the beautiful examples of impromptu Asian art posted up on the walls of the gallery. While we didn’t come home with anything worth framing, maybe you will -- and we had a lot of fun dabbling in a new kind of art.
Visiting the Boone Children’s Gallery at LACMA
Los Angeles County Museum of Art
5905 Wilshire Blvd. Los Angeles, CA 90036
(at Wilshire and Fairfax)
Age Recommendations: 9 and up
Time Requirements: 1/2 hour to visit the Korean Art gallery, 1/2 hour to an hour in the Boone Children’s Gallery, plus extra time to visit other museum galleries and have lunch
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