The Cultural Treasures body of work developed quickly from a culmination of ideas varying from contemporary pottery, creativity and a journey to Japan. My desire is to initiate contemplation about the importance of craftsmanship in our modern day world.
I have been an admirer of the work of local Howard County potter Becky Moy Behre of Greenbridge Pottery for over a decade, and recently began working for her part time. This led to an opportunity to go on an upcoming Greenbridge Pottery voyage to Japan, which will not only inspire us as artists, but also allow us to witness the impact and respect pottery continues to hold in the Japanese culture, as it has for centuries. We will be touring ancient kiln sites surrounding the city of Kyoto to view where these vessels of beauty were made. Often seeing the origination of everyday objects impacts us in ways like no other. To think about the resources and skills it takes for the simple coffee mug or flower vase to even exist? This is what drives my passion behind the respect for the work and wares of artisans, especially in my hometown.
In addition to Greenbridge Pottery, the springboard for this series of paintings was a book I found at the Second Story Bookstore in Rockville: “Living National Treasures of Japan” published in 1982. Initially, I was scouting books for my upcoming trip; I was not planning my next series of paintings. However, as I browsed through the pages, I fell in love with the amazing pieces I was seeing: pottery, kimonos, screens, boxes; if these National Treasures were broken into chards and destroyed, what a loss of inspiration it would be! How fortunate it is they are protected in museums for all to observe. This realization led me to the thought of my next painting series: I would incorporate the images of the historic Japanese Treasures and colors from Greenbridge Pottery into something of my own creation - contemporary abstract paintings? Where would that take me? How would it look? Would the viewer understand the process entailed to get to that finishing point? How could I communicate a message? Encompassing these ideas, the end resulted in a series of twelve abstract paintings that were built layer by layer over the next four weeks.
At the conclusion of this experience, I find myself even more fascinated with everything I see; how something that may seem trifling actually has significance, conscious or subconscious, for purpose or mere enjoyment. It is the story behind these items that fascinate me. I have always found the greatest of pleasure in things that cannot be bought. A smooth stone, vein patterns in leaves, vibrant colors in the natural world, a simple meal causing great delight, expressions of kindness; in my view, these are the things that have the most profound value which inspire me every day.
Finalizing the painting series with a small circle symbolizing a little sun (a popular universal symbol to the Japanese) is a humble tribute to the Japanese culture of which I will soon be immersed in. The more I learn, the more I seek to learn, and it is a self-perpetuating hunger for understanding. Therein lies inspiration and recognition of the importance of modern day craftsmanship, our cultural treasures.
Below are photos of the process with details, I welcome comments and questions!