Written by KO Cheung
Translated by Joel Wong
Image source: PMQ
How should we take care of ourselves in the midst of the pandemic? When the world has become borderless, "empathy" is one of the keys to overcoming the challenges and obstacles.
“BEING With You” Picture Book Exhibition pivots around the "8 Growth Stages" in life. Through over 150 picture books from Japan, Taiwan, Korea, Europe, and the United States, they offer a lens through which to open their hearts and senses to a meaningful life journey, and be empathetic to themselves and to others.
Can we learn "empathy"?
On the day I attended the exhibition, and the cold wave had just arrived in the city. Every one along the corridor of the exhibition hall shuddered a little as the cold breeze blew by. The staff at the reception approached the visitors to check on them. Such seemingly ordinary behavior is a good manifestation of "empathy."
Over the years, the academic circles in various places have begun to incorporate "empathy" into the character education curriculum from the kindergarten stage. Yet, "empathy" is different from "sympathy", it emphasizes the understanding of others’ feelings, rather than pitiful their experiences. According to the Scottish economist and moral philosopher Adam Smith’s famous publication "Theory of Moral Sentiments", it puts forward that "empathy" is the cornerstone of "benevolent morality." It is about putting in the position of others and understanding each other's emotions and thoughts, which is a crucial interpersonal communication ability.
The curatorial team of “BEING with You” Picture Book Exhibition breaks down the complexity and layout of the exhibition content and arrangement into “8 Growth Stages” of life: "Infancy", "Toddlerhood", "Childhood", "Puberty", "Adolescence", "Adulthood", "Middle Adulthood" and “Late Adulthood" respectively. There's magic in picture books: a basic story framework with vivid illustrations and intimate texts to convey the concept of "empathy", luring readers to interact with the story, and put themselves in others’ position or environment. And this is how we construct “empathy”.
It is easier for the children and teenagers to enhance their understanding of empathy through reading; for adults, they can put aside all those burdens to enjoy such relaxed reading time. On the day of the exhibition, not only the children enjoyed the reading, the parents or teenagers who accompanied the children to the exhibition also sunk in comfortably on the sofa and read quietly. What a scene!
The curatorial team of “BEING with You” Picture Book Exhibition breaks down the complexity and layout of the exhibition content and arrangement into “8 Growth Stages” of life: "Infancy", "Toddlerhood", "Childhood", "Puberty", "Adolescence", "Adulthood", "Middle Adulthood" and “Late Adulthood" respectively.
“Infancy” to “Adolescence” – A Journey of Self Discovery
Participants enjoy their time from such a great selection of picture books, which allow them to understand how to turn crisis into opportunity, and to carry out each new stage of life. For example, "Infancy" and "Toddlerhood" are the key stages for the development of empathy. The love oneself received from the primary family, especially parents, help to cultivate their goodwill. Therefore, there are many picture books on the subject of physical exploration in these two sections, such as ""What Does Baby Want", 《不要把手伸進鼻孔裡》, "Guess How Much I Love You",etc., talking about the importance of caring, comfort, and hugs in expressing our love; Or, in “I am a Artist” and 《我好想搗蛋》, they display the joy and struggle of parent-child interaction.
During our "Childhood", “Puberty” and "Adolescence" stages, we gradually recognize our own personalities. Having social circles outside of the family allows us to be more capable of taking care of ourselves and dealing with relationships. However, in the ever-changing environment, peer group are full of uncertainties... In “Zooptique” which talks about the situation of the world from different perspectives, and 《黑孩子》 explores the idea of companionship concerning a special child. Through understanding the sufferings of others, we encourage everyone to love themselves and respect others.
“What Does Baby Want”
I am An ArtistAuthor：Marta Altés Illustrator：Marta Altés Translator：黃筱茵
ZooptiqueAuthor：Guillaume Duprat Translator：梅苃仁
“Adulthood” to “Late adulthood” - Love and Reconciliation
From "Adulthood", "Middle Adulthood" to "Late adulthood", we may face realities like aging and death of parents, expectations, financial burdens, sickness, and death, etc., making adults' psychological and social development far more complex, coupled with more doubts and anxiety than they were at younger age.
The book selection in these sections does not evade reality. For example, the picture book “Cicada” talks about the dilemma of the working class; "Where the Wild Mums Are" is a humorous tale on moms who are insisted in being true to themselves; "The Lion and the Bird" and "Bear and Wolf" talks about the importance of companionship and beliefs; 《阿茲海默先生》displays the anxiety of those who have dementia and the sorrow of their caretakers; "Duck, Death and the Tulip" deals with death and teaches readers how to prepare their mind and body for the inevitable, etc.
Each picture book has its own glow and aftertaste deep in the heart, allowing us to traverse the past, present, and future, and transcend all the pain and obstacles in the past. And may we discover through words and pictures some strength for walking with ourselves and our fellow humans.
Bear and WolfAuthor：Daniel Salmieri Illustrator：Daniel Salmieri
"BEING With You" Picture Book Exhibition
Date: Now – 31/1/2021
Time: 11am – 7pm
Venue: S710-S713, 7/F, Block A, PMQ