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Connecting the DOTS

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    “Inner Space,” the wood sculpture at left; “Keala,” center; and “Mango Unfolding” are part of Eric Chun’s exhibit “Ten Thousand Fragments,” showing at the Peggy Chun Gallery in Chinatown through Sept. 11.
    “Spiritual Spelunker.”

Art affects life and life affects art. At least that’s the case in Eric Chun’s life.

"My interest in art started when I was a kid. My mom always encouraged it," he recalls.

That comes as no surprise, since Eric’s mother was the beloved Hawaii artist Peggy Chun, who became an example of courage as she continued to create art while contending with the progressively debilitating Lou Gehrig’s disease. She died in 2008.

‘Ten Thousand Fragments’

When: Through Sept. 11, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesdays to Fridays, and Saturdays until 4 p.m.
Where: Peggy Chun Gallery, 1161 Nuuanu Ave.
Call: 545-4810

Eric earned a degree in sculpture from the University of Hawaii in 1996 and worked as a professional artist, exhibiting in group shows and producing murals alongside his mother. That all came to a screeching halt in 2002 when she was diagnosed.

"We were in crisis mode. I couldn’t do much except earn a living and take care of her," he says. "For a while I thought I would never do art again. I was pretty discouraged; life had become so stressful."

But after his mother died, Chun realized that "art is still my calling," and through Sept. 11 he’s exhibiting his work in "Ten Thousand Fragments," sculptures created from sustainably harvested urban hardwoods, at the Peggy Chun Gallery. Chun uses wood he’s collected from his tree-trimming business.

"I’ve been admiring the beauty of the different woods. I built up an inventory with the idea that I would sculpt them one day. It wasn’t until this year that I’ve been able to make sculptures again."

THE SHOW is based on writings by ancient Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu from the book "Tao Te Ching," and each sculpture is accompanied by a verse from the book.

"I’m always inspired by it, so I decided to do my own (artistic) interpretation of the verses," says Chun. "Some pieces were borne out of a verse; some material dictated … the verse I selected."

The exhibit includes a trio of pieces that feature video screens housed in wood panels representing the "Three Treasures" of "Great Integrity," which Chun defines as a practical guide to living: love, moderation and humility. "Lao Tzu says it’s ‘great foolishness’ to live without them," says Chun.

The show title, "Ten Thousand Fragments," refers to passages about the wholeness of Great Integrity breaking into 10,000 fragments in daily reality, and how that fragmentation leads back to wholeness.

Such philosophical musings reflect Chun’s evolution as an artist. He says being away from art for a number of years has given him time to think deeply about his ideas.

"I feel like this is a new level for me in my work. I’ve been able to really connect the dots between the physical and the spiritual, which was my goal from the beginning.

"The past years have been an emotionally tough time, but they say great ideas can be born of hardship," he continues. "My life lessons have given me new energy to express myself.

"There’s definitely been a small fire burning inside of me wanting to come out."


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