Wabi Sabi

Scroll to view exhibition images followed by process.

Noren #1
Hand-stamped fabric with bee-brocade border
40 x 13 inches

Leave your shoes and swords outside the door. Enter Wabi Sabi.

What is Wabi Sabi? The delicate balance between the pleasure we get from things and the pleasure we get from the absence of things.

Stardust Molecular Structure & Green Leaves
Stitched Italian anti-mosquito screen & Painted paper
20 x 3 feet

The aesthetic is irregular, intimate, unpretentious, earthy, and an antidote to the corporate mindset that has saturated our daily dealings.

The painted leaves suspended overhead from bamboo poles were made by high school students in the East Boston Advanced Art class. They collected leaves from the neighborhood to use as templates.

The bamboo poles were gathered from my backyard garden in Cambridge.

The young artists made me 108 leaves, because the number 108 is considered, by many cultures, to be a sacred number that connects us to our place in the cosmic order.

Zen Garden
Plaster sculptures and folded paper

A field of figurative plaster sculptures displayed on folded paper fans evoke a traditional Japanese garden, with its raked pattern and quiet landscape rocks.

Zen Asteroid #5
24 x 14 x 5 inches

The body finds wings when things gets dark.

Our bodies are composed of the cosmic dust of stars that exploded billions of years ago. The “Asteroids” resting in the Zen Garden are as impermanent as we are. Dissolving. Evolving. Always repairing. 

Zen Asteroid #2
27 x 12 x 6 inches

Wabi-Sabi shows us that the art objects we examine have limits and flaws and suggests that the job of an artist is to show the flaws to us.

Yet...we always can find beauty in cracks, crevices and marks that time, weather and use have left behind.

Wabi Sabi Origami Book
8.5 x 11 inches, unfolded

All of the art objects chosen for Wabi Sabi are made of simple non-technical material--paper, plaster, glues, found objects, ceramic. I made an origami gallery guide to hand out to visitors. 

In the simplicity of my materials and tools, I bowed to the children who continue to mesmerize and impress me, as well as reexamined my responsibility to leave the world safe for them. 

Zen Asteroid #4
11x10 x 5 inches

The ritual of making art; the bowing to materials; the emptying of self; the fixing of mistakes and getting a finished work that’s not quite expected but beautiful.

Installation, north and east wall
20x20.5x8 inches

My photographer, George Bouret, is enjoying Wabi Sabi and taking a look at the work of two guest artists: Dick Stroud and Joseph Fontinha.

How to Tie an Obi
15-minute video by Joseph Fontinha

Boston artist Joseph Fontinha married my ‘Japanese daughter’ Asami. In the video, “How to Tie an Obi," Asami and Joseph’s teenage daughter is being dressed in a blue kimono by Asami’s 96 year-old grandmother. 

(For two decades my family and I have hosted international students in our house.They are young women who want to improve their English language skill so that they may be well-employed when they return to their home countries.)

Tea Room

Wabi Sabi philosophy evolved from the Tea Ceremony. 

Dyan Eagles, Zen monk and founder of Dharma Crafts, generously lent the gallery a red-lacquered tea table and zafu cushions for our tea house. 

Tea Cup Rain

Tea-ism is founded on the adoration of the beautiful among the sordid facts of every day existence.

Above the Tea Room I suspended a tea cup collection from bamboo poles.

British Tea Cups & New England Rocks

The tea ceremony works directly on all five senses. This is by design. Buddhist monks apparently structured the ritual so that it would wake people up, both physically and spiritually.

The basket is full of smooth rocks collected from New England beaches. 

Kintsugi Plates & Noren #2
Ceramic with gold powder and resin repairs
10” diameter, each plate

When the Japanese mend broken objects, they aggrandize the damage by filling in the cracks with gold. The repair is called kintsugi. Something that has suffered damage and history becomes more beautiful.

Kintsugi Plate #1 (detail)
Ceramic, gold dust and resin

My husband and I met practicing Aikido, a Japanese martial art. Consequently we are fond of everything Japanese. One summer, in Italy, he packed the three ceramic plates I had made in his backpack. Then, running for a train, he dropped the backpack. My plates shattered. 

Two years later, a Kintsugi artist repaired the plates. The gold seams remind us to celebrate loss, synthesis, improvement, change. 

Youth's Voice

In 2018, Greta Thunberg, a young Swedish environmental activist, challenged world leaders to take immediate action against climate change. 

The assemblage features her letter to the United Nations.

The sea under “Youth’s Voice”
Silk sea sponge forms and LED tube

The exquisite silk sea sponge forms in the “Youth's Voice” assemblage are artifacts from my early career as a sponge importer. In the 80s, I designed packaging and distributed ‘silk’ and ‘wool’ sponges to cosmetic stores, bath shops and health food stores. 

Guest Artist: Ayumi Ueda
Performance art

Sound healer, Ayumi Ueda, presented an evening performance using crystal singing bowls and mantra chanting. She is the founder of the award-winning international vocal ensemble, Women of the World.

Scrolls by Guest Artist Roberta Pyx Sutherland
Scrolls: inks, watercolor& mineral pigments on hand-made paper

Visual artist Roberta Pyx Sutherland, lives in Victoria, Canada. Her practice contemplates the ancient symbolic circle and its capacity to transmit a non-verbal experience.

The repetition of the circle embodies cosmic patterning, divine intelligence, the environment and the interconnectivity of all life forms.

"Aikido Samurai" by Guest Artist Dick Stroud
24 x 30 inches

Dick Stroud, Artist and Eighth Dan Aikido Black Belt, introduced me to my husband.

Dick mentored me, and many people, in the ways of art and life. He was quite an impressive person. He is gone. 

Super-8 Camera

I invited people I love and have loved to be with me in the art making for this exhibit.

Everything was sacred: the noren I sewed to separate the gallery space from the entry hall, my husband ’s Aikido sword that stood on the floor, my old Bolex super-8 camera placed in a window. 

The tools, objects and materials I used possessed ancestors that continued on within the gallery realm.

Process images