Getting back in the groove with life and creating. Fall seems to always be the time where I come alive.
Near the end of August I was feeling brave enough to venture back out into the world and ended up at a workshop put on by Chris Kelly and OCAF featuring Naoki Izumi.
Izumi’s approach to producing art coincides with his awareness of SuHaRi, (often referenced in martial arts). This concept instructs a student to first master the discipline, then to break from the discipline, and finally to transcend the discipline.
All in all it was a great workshop and I learned a lot from watching him throw these pots and vessels, some of which are no longer needed (Ohaguro – the practice of teeth blackening, and the jars to store the mixture for example) but they retain their value as an object of history and are still made and sold. I think it’s a fantastic ode to heritage of yesterday, to keep making the same vessels but in a more modern form and interpretation.
I also met Naomi Hashimoto who is the director of the Echizen Ware Industrial Cooperative Association. A fantastic guy who was accompanying Izumi from Japan for this workshop and a few other items of business. I was delighted that he invited me to come and visit whenever I make the trip to Japan.
A little bit about Chris Kelly – The Associate Art Director for Piedmont College and Chair of the Art Department. He spent a year in Japan after college, specifically in Echizen, learning from the potters and the community. And the more I get learn about Chris the more I realize that he’s truly giving back some of what he was privileged to partake in. I try to thank Chris for his contributions every chance I get because if there is something that I am interested in, he usually ends up being the one behind it. So the three of these fellows are friends from that time and we were lucky enough to learn from and to be part of that friendship.
What I took away from the workshop was not so much technical knowledge, (Izumi-San’s technique is loose and beautiful and I hope to one day be 1/2 as good as him) but more the camaraderie and pride of the Echizen potters and how they all do what comes from their hearts and still keep the tradition alive. Keeping Echizen as a pottery village which it has been for 800 years. There is much much more to the story that I hope to write about in the future.
I returned with two DVDs documenting Echizen and the potters of yesterday and today as well as a good feeling that I’m continuing to pursue a path that feels right to me.