Essay Self Examination

A Self-Examination:Reaching for Spiritual Expression "Gentle Solitude"

A Self-Examination: Reaching for Spiritual Expression "Gentle Solitude"

When I mention that I teach art at the University of Michigan, people often respond with "How nice that you have talent!" People conceive of the artist as someone upon whom God has bestowed the gift of "talent". This talent gushes out from the artist's mysterious source, and flows out from his or her hands without any research or effort. It is a natural process, in which the artist is just an instrument of the talent. Except in extremely rare cases, nothing could be further from the truth.
My own case is a good example. In 1966,1 came from Japan to study at the Cranbrook Academy of Art, where I eventually received my M.F.A. and met my husband, Gene, with whom I have collaborated in the making of metalwork for the past 20 years. Of the approximately 25 students in the department of metalsmithing at that time, I was one of the least promising. I was certain that I had chosen the wrong direction, since it seemed obvious that I had no talent in that field.
At the end of my first year, I analyzed my situation, thinking alot about this word "talent". Why wasn't my work as good as that of the other students? Maybe I hadn't been serious enough, or worked hard enough. Until then I had thought that talent was a gift. I began to realize that it could be otherwise.
I graduated from Cranbrook twenty years ago, and I am among the few from my class who are still active artists. True, some of those "talented" people discovered other important things in their lives, and left art to pursue them. Others produced good work, but were unable to reach the public. Nevertheless, it would appear ironic that I, one of the least talented, have survived.
'Talent" can be cultivated. Perhaps the result of my trying hard to compensate for my lack of talent through constant effort, research and presentation is now seen as "talent" by others. It is clear to me that what people refer to as my "talent" is the result of effort, not some mysterious gift.
Talent and creativity result from study and discipline, combined with a passionate love of our work. With gTeat effort and determination, we can develop our potential in any field, be it art, physics, mathematics or medicine. Creative and talented people in any field are driven by their passion for discovery.
Edward de Bono, author of blcxu Think published by Avon Books in 1969, says that "creativity involves the construction of mental metaphors. By making one word, image, or idea take the identity of another, you can force it to take on new meaning that may be original and valuable." Creativity is problem-solving, a skill based on the conscious and/or unconscious recombination and juxtaposition of information derived from diverse sources and influences.
This requires a synthesis of intellect and emotion, establishing relationships between the worlds of imagination, thought, and physical, objective reality.
To achieve this synthesis, the artist engages in two types of research. The first is the exploration of materials and technique, which corresponds to empirical research in the sciences. The second type of research is related to the development of concept and content. To accomplish this, the artist undertakes the study of his or her world, receptive to all manner of stimuli, both external and internal, concrete and emotional. The information is absorbed, then consciously and intuitively reinterpreted in a manner that may reveal some personal or universal truth.

Research in the Realm of Art

My evolution as an artist illustrates these two types of research in which artists engage, and may help to reveal the processes involved in creating a work of art, processes rarely seen, or even suspected, by the public.
Let me start off with some slides of work that resulted from my early research into materials and techniques in the 1960s.
In the West, the early '60s were dominated by Scandinavian design, characterized by simple forms, and smooth, shiny surfaces. There was no place for surface decoration. Materials were restricted to gold, silver and precious stones. I began to question these trends. Why these impeccably polished surfaces? (Actually, 1 didn't want to be involved with long hours of buffing...dirty work!) And why only gold and silver?
These questions led me to research in different methods of surface decoration and in the use of different materials. 1 began with studies of the properties of alloys, and the coloration of metals. I experimented with the use of geometric designs in surface decoration. The traditional art of Japan is very advanced in both of these areas.
Some slides of my work from this time will help to illustrate this. I explored the use of line-inlay, a traditional process of chiselling channels into which are placed silver wire. I found that by using copper as a base metal and applying certain chemical colorings, I could create effects comparable to those achieved by using silver.
Having explored these techniques, I wanted to push further. Sometimes it is helpful to get away from one's own field, to seek influences outside one's own specialty, to immerse oneself in a completely new environment. One summer I made a trip to Japan to visit 8 ikat, fiber, artists. Their work showed a splendor of color, pattern and softness that was missing from metalwork.
I decided to try to capture the delicacy and softness of ikat in my work. Although it could be done with conventional inlaying, it would be extremely time consuming.
How then, could I translate the qualities of fabric into metal? Line inlay makes patterns through the use of round wires made of metals of contrasting color. What would happen, then, when two wires of different colors were twisted together? I discovered, accidently, that by combining sets of wires that were twisted in different directions, a herringbone pattern was created. I tried many different variations, varying the direction of twist, the color of the solid wires, and so on, to produce new patterns.
The next problem I confronted was the surface flatness of the original inlay pattern. After soldering twisted patterns onto a very thin metal backing, lightly tapping with a hammer and filing the entire surface, I achieved a flat surface with a pattern. I noticed that some areas of the surface, particularly the edges, retained the original form of the rounded, twisted wires. Ironically, this extensive process of exploration and research is invisible in the finished work.
While exploring technique, I also thought about the nature of jewelry. Why is it always put away in a drawer or box when not in use? Isn't there some other way to enjoy it when it is not being worn? My solution: display it! I started to produce pieces that function as both wearable art, and wall pieces or table sculpture.
My next move was from geometric patterns to more organic ones. What were the possibilities, particularly in working with an inorganic material such as metal? Mokume-Gane, which translated literally means "wood-grained metal," is a method of obtaining organic surface patterns. However, in the West, the technique involved soldering, which imposes many technical restrictions on size and form.
Luckily, on another trip to Japan, I saw a piece that employed mokume-gane in a way that I had never dreamed possible. I was astonished, and determined to learn the secret from the artist who had produced the piece. I devoted myself to disciplined study under the only craftsman left in Japan who has mastery over this technique.
Once I had become comfortable with the traditional technique, I investigated further possibilities. My students and I employed modern tools like the milling machine, and different chemical treatments to produce etched effects. There were also other variables to explore, like twisting and splitting. Traditionally, a combination of copper, copper alloys, silver and gold are used. What other metals were available to extend the range of color? My students and I also tried bronze, as well as a palate of yellow, red, green and white golds. The slides you see here are some of the results.
My work with mokume-gane attracted attention in the U.S. and Europe,
and as a result of the articles about my research published in Japan, interest
was rekindled in that country. One company began to produce ready-to-use

I. I

mokume-gane sheets. Today, Mitsubishi markets gold mokume-gane for the
commercial jewelry industry. This is one example of how an artist's research can make a contribution to other fields.
Up until now, I have focused on the tangible research that artists conduct, research into materials and techniques that is based in part on scientific methodology. But the mastery of technique is only the first step in producing a work of art. The next stage is self-expression, through which the artist may explore philosophical and spiritual issues.
One day in 1983, a colleague of mine casually referred to me as "Ms. Mokume". This was both a compliment for reintroducing a technique to the world, and also a sharp criticism that my work was nothing more than a
technical achievement.
Art is self-expression, and communication with an audience. It may express the feeling of beauty, make a political comment, or criticize materialism. In any case, art must have meaning beyond mere technical facility. It is the marriage of heart, hand and head. Professor Richard Guyatt of the Royal College of Art in London noted the importance of this relationship in the act of creation. Art must include all three human qualities, even though it may emphasize one or two. Without judgement, or emotion, or technique, art would be devoid of interest.
During the '50s and '60s, the field of metalwork was being revived in the U.S. American metalsmiths, including myself, were fascinated by technique. It was a fertile time for exploration, with workshops and technical exchanges opening new possibilities in the field. However, in the late 70s and early '80s, "technique fever" started to slow down, and metalsmiths again faced the issues of concept and content in their work.
Being referred to as "Ms. Mokume" made me realize that I had been neglecting the most important aspects of the process of artistic creation: self-expression and communication. 1 got into a slump, and it has taken over three years of self-examination and study to find my way out of it.
The process that I have gone through in the search for expression is research in the truest sense for the artist, and is quite different from that involved in exploring and mastering technique. I hope that I can clarify how artists develop concept and content, and express it in their work, although my evolution is only one example among many artists.
One of the reasons that artists are rarely thought of as engaging in research is that the public sees only the finished work, the result of the art process. The process itself remains invisible, and in fact, aside from the technical part of the process, almost inconceivable. The creative process cannot be quantified, and is very difficult to explain through the use of language because of its intuitive nature.
The evolution of my current approach may help to illustrate this process, this kind of intangible research, which includes the search for, and incorporation of, diverse sources and influences. According to Bruce Metcalf's 'Techniques for the Head", published in Metalsmith, winter 1983:
"All artists use sources and influences and inspirations, and all art is in some way derived from something else. If a work of art was totally and completely original, it would be totally and completely incomprehensible to everyone but the artist himself. Complete originality would be so far removed from our normal experience that it would probably be construed as madness."
He goes on to say that "the range of art includes everything. Everything that you can perceive or imagine is available to the artist (as a source)...the only limits are self-imposed." That artists rely on sources and influences does not mean that they cannot create something new. On the contrary, the role of the artist is to absorb all of this information, and through a sometimes subconscious process of abstraction, recombination, and/or juxtaposition, to produce some new insight or truth.
I adapted Metcalf's ideas to my approach. 1 went back to the beginning, to re-examine my early work. I started a collection of "Influences and Sources" by going to all kinds of exhibitions, reading widely, listening to music, going to fashion shows. 1 took notes, collected clippings from magazines, took photographs, even occasionally took notes while watching television. 1 studied the history of metalsmithing, reviewing the changes in my field and the historical contexts in which they occurred. Through my observations, analysis and criticism, I started to understand what was important to me in my work.
I returned to the basic question of materials and technique in jewelry. I realized that not to use metal would be a new direction for me. I was also charmed by the conceptual designs of Issei Miyake, a world famous Japanese fashion designer. First, his basic idea derived from the traditional kimono, a combination of rectangular shapes that, when worn, take on a new shape, creating a contemporary look. Secondly, when this piece of clothing is not on the human body, people cannot tell what it is. It looks like an odd shaped throw rug. It changes form because of the choice of material—it is soft and flexible and can stretch—in this case thin knitted wool.
I decided to try paper as a material for jewelry. 1 had seen the gTeat potential in paper in the mid 70s while I was working and producing handmade paper with Howie and Kathy Clark of the Twinrocker Paper mill in Brookston, Indiana, but I had never pushed or explored the possibilities. At this time, however, because circumstance no longer enabled me to produce my own paper, I chose to use a ready-made Japanese paper.
My first work with paper was a neckpiece. It looks like a placemat on a table, but changes form when worn. Paper alone is too fragile to be worn, so 1 used canvas as a flexible inner support material. 1 worked with richly textured Japanese paper to avoid flat, smooth surfaces. The result of this work was adequate, but I still wasn't satisfied. I was only playing with material and form. The work lacked content. It did not have "heart".
While purchasing Japanese paper at the store, I saw, by accident, another beautiful material—papercord. Available in gold, silver, white, black and red, this papercord is called mizuhiki in Japan, where it is traditionally used for ritual purposes and gift wrapping. I had never seen the material before in its original form. I was intuitively drawn to it, perhaps because the gold and silver colors reminded me of metals.
The beginning of my work with Japanese paper and papercord coincided with a period of deep reflection upon the meaning of my life. I experienced a feeling of emptiness and purposelessness, which everyone confronts at some point in their lives. I pondered my own mortality, and tried to come to terms iwith the eventual death of my parents. Even though I had a successful career and was happily married, something was missing. I was not satisfied. I had always thought that one of the reasons for producing art is that it would give me some discipline, and serve as a form of meditation. Why wasn't I getting peace of mind from my work? Why was I dissatisfied?
When I began my work with papercord, these feelings were flowing through my heart. That life is like a dream, and that someday the light of my life would go out. I began to see an analogy in the papercord material: it is like the length of a person's life, there is a beginning and an end. In spite of its apparent fragility and thread-like form, the bright metallic colors of the papercord create an illusion of strength and permanence, an illusion similar to the one under which we live a large part of our lives. In making my papercord jewelry, I realized that form can have meaning beyond mere abstract beauty. The contrasts between this organic material and its artificial metallic color, and between the traditional applications of papercord and these abstract designs, comment on the evolution of man's position in the universe. We are part of the natural world, and of a historic and cultural world of our own making.
At the same time that I was working with papercord, these new insights were becoming evident in my metalwork. 1 love working with metal, I enjoy the feeling of it. And while searching for sources and influences in books and at exhibitions, I had found that the work that made the strongest impression on me was the traditional Japanese metalwork. I found that the natural motifs in the traditional pieces were very fresh and literal. While I appreciated the excellence of their craftsmanship, for which the Japanese masters are justifiably famous, their unpretentiousness made me feel relaxed and comfortable.
I tried to analyze why these pieces made me feel this way. What gave their work such a joy of life, and a dignity and power even though the pieces were small in scale? These were qualities that my work seemed to lack, and I was determined to find the answers. As a result, I have been traveling to Japan to study with master metalsmiths. While studying with these masters, I did not question or argue with their opinions. I accepted them, thinking I that I would analyze their attitudes and thoughts after I had experienced them. Arguing the philosophy of their craft would have reduced my experience to theory. I am a metalsmith, not a theorist.
During this study I found that traditional Japanese metalwork uses traditional techniques and motifs drawn from nature to emphasize both function and aesthetic value. Do the constraints on technique and motif enhance or limit the content of traditional Japanese metalwork?
To answer that question, we must understand the cultural background that forms the philosophical and aesthetic basis of Japanese metalwork. I have found that, despite the accelerating Westernization of Japanese society, its moral and aesthetic values are still strongly rooted in Zen philosophy.
A good illustration of Zen's influence is the development and continued popularity of the Japanese rock garden. The rock garden creates and presents a universe within limited space. Its intention is to touch the core of nature, helping man to reach enlightenment by releasing the human spirit from the three-dimensional world into the indeterminate universal space.
The rock garden was created as a means of practicing the "way to enlightenment" through the contemplation of nature. The philosophy exemplified by the Japanese rock garden is a strong force in the work of traditional Japanese metalsmiths. They derive their motifs from nature; their work displays an elegant simplicity of design that creates a universe within the confines of space and material; and the strict discipline in their training and work leads to the state of selflessness that is the goal of Zen meditation.
In Japan, each metalsmith has a specialty, much like medical doctors have in the United States. If a Japanese metalsmith's technique is raising, or if it is casting, he or she employs only raising or casting. Surface decoration is strictly surface decoration. An enamelist works only at enameling, since, as the fusion of glass to metal, it requires a different set of techniques than does metalwork. This high level of specialization enables Japanese craftspeople to polish their skills and to achieve a high level of craftsmanship. There is also specialization in the types of objects that Japanese metaismiths make based on both historical and philosophical grounds.
Perhaps the words of the Japanese masters with whom I have been studying can help to explain the nature of their work. The following are phrases by a number of Japanese metaismiths that I have recorded over the years.

Some Ideas on Concept and Content

  • When you design wild weeds in a field, let's say, you are not just sketching the field or the wild weeds. Your eyes and mind should be like a poet.
  • You cannot just sketch the outside of an object. If you sketch only the form, the object you produce will be just an object, you will not be able to read or communicate the spirit of the motif. When you are ready to sketch, you must confront the motif. Face it and observe it. The point is, how willing and able you are to converse with nature, to understand what is behind the surface of things. Deep inside you will find the nobility, value and preciousness of life.
  • When you make a piece, it is important to become one with the subject itself. When you are inlaying the line of a vine, the movement of your body is the vine, and your hand is the growing tip of the vine.
  • I want to create the innocent joy that we feel when we look at a baby smiling; it makes us smile even if we are not the parents of it.

Thoughts on Materials

  • Though metal is strong and hard, it can sometimes be melted or bent, it can be changed from heavy to light. Through different treatments, you can
    express your feelings on the surface: unsophisticated roughness,
    gentleness, grace and elegance.

Ideas about Technique

  • Because materials have physical restrictions, you must employ techniques you can control any way you like to express feeling.
  • Beautiful material is not equal to beauty. It is the responsibility of the artist to develop and push the material to achieve a level of expression. For this purpose, because metal is such a difficult material to work with, long discipline and study are needed. Through this discipline you will also discover yourself.
  • Technique is necessary to produce craft that brings joy to people's hearts.
    While it is important to understand and experiment with new methods,
    there is meaning in the use of traditional techniques. Human beings are a mixture of the traditional and conservative as well as the progressive.

What is Craft?

  • The goal of craft is to produce a functional object with spirit and beauty by hand.
  • Craft means to produce an object within the constraints of a particular material.
  • It is not necessary to be distinctly original. Superb craftsmanship will reveal the touch of your hand. It doesn't matter that you use old forms or traditional motifs with traditional techniques, because you will find beauty beyond age.

The point of quoting from these Japanese masters, aside from the intrinsic beauty of their thoughts, is that even within the constraints of materials, traditional Japanese technique and even traditional form, there is the opportunity, perhaps even the duty, for the artist to express both spirit and emotion. This idea of expressive freedom within constraints may be illustrated by the following analogy.
I was watching a television program on Baryshnikov performing classical ballet. When he dances, he creates an atmosphere on stage through the movement of his body. The lines of his steps create lines on the stage, and the lines create forms. If he is not skillful in the execution of the steps, the audience will not be touched by his movement. He says that the emotion he puts into the dance is the most important. The classical steps become nothing, only a part of the whole. He can say this because he has mastered the classical steps and they are now a part of his body. The audience can enjoy this tangible process (in this case dancing) with the artist while he is performing. The resultant piece will remain as an intangible image in the mind of the viewer. A similar phenomenon occurs in the performance of classical music. Although the notes have been determined, as a result of long training the conductor recreates the piece of music. The audience can follow the tangible process of the music, but the result in the mind of the hearer is intangible — that is, emotional and spiritual.
In the case of the craftsperson, while the processes of thought and creation involved in making the piece are intangible, the audience is presented with the quality of the tangible result.
If classical dance and music are played again and again, yet enjoyed by people a bit differently each time they are performed, then can the same principle be applied to the field of metalwork? I believe that this is the idea behind the philosophy of traditional Japanese metalsmiths.
Based on my studies with Japanese craftspeople, I feel that traditional Japanese metal work reflects the spirit of the artist. They love the material with which they work — metal — and face it with an attitude of honesty and obedience. Their work shows the internal psychological expression of the strength and freshness of life, and the beauty of wisdom, intelligence and depth of sensibility. With regard to the object's functionality in daily life, the Jananese masters believe that if they are honest about themselves in their conversations with nature, and make every effort to produce feeling in their work, the audience will be touched by it.
The reflection of the artist's spirit in traditional Japanese metalwork is very subtle, partly because of the constraints of material and function, but also because the work is very carefully thought out and executed with superb technique. Their work leads me to the universe of beauty through delicate changes in sensibility brought about by careful attention.
There are traces of the unconscious resistance to materials and tools by the hands of the master craftspeople. This is evidence of the synthesis of the beauty of the material and the personality of the artists. They are finding a joy in crafting these pieces, and playing in the world of self-effacement. {That is, in a state of spiritual selflessness.) When the work achieves these qualities, the audience can share some of the same joy, and feel the individual artist's personality when they touch the object.
Interestingly, though traditional Japanese metalwork employs realistic, natural motifs, it is an interpretation, not an imitation of nature. This work does not confront the viewer, it is not directly about meaning. It embodies dignity, power and life in an unpretentious manner. This is self-expression at its most refined.
The Japanese approach is for the artist and the material to become one. Craft should reflect the artist's joyful search for truth, and communicate this joy to the viewer, making his or her heart beat honestly and freshly.
A mastery of technique is indispensible if the finished work is to achieve spiritual expression. If the craftsperson is a true artist, he will use skill as a tool, rather than an egotistical demonstration of his mastery over materials.
Craft is the quality production of objects by hand, objects that have function and connotation of spirit or expression. The object is defined by its relevance to human existence. It is dependent upon the use and perception of the viewer; otherwise it has no importance. It is the artist's responsibility to combine the functional characteristics of craft with aesthetics and expression.

Craft produces something that is physical, that produces joy when it is held and touched, much like the human body. For this reason craft is concerned with issues of scale and detail. The most comfortable size for a piece is determined by human scale. The height of a person while standing or sitting, the length of arms and legs, the size and shape of the human hand and the living space in an ordinary home or public building are all considerations. The weight of the crafted piece also influences the effect it will have on the viewer or holder.
Quality aaft is spiritual existence, as well as the combination of head, heart and hand, both in the making of pieces and in the audience's response to them.
Richard Guyatt noted the relationship between heart, head and hand when someone experiences the emotional urge to create. These three components are integral to any type of art, from industrial to fine art to craft art.

  • Industrial art springs primarily from the intellect but is dependent upon the skill of craftspeople and the aesthetic response of the people that comprise the market.
  • Fine art must, of necessity, include all three human qualities, even though it may emphasize one or two. Without judgement, emotion or technique, fine art would be devoid of interest.
  • The craftsperson seeks to express form and function through the beauty of skill. If the artist does not combine hand and head to organize and execute the work, and heart to create a sense of spirit and a relationship to society, the work will be purely masturbatory. My studies with the Japanese masters pointed the way for me to develop the marriage of heart and hand that I had been seeking. My extensive research and study of technique had given me the tools with which to work, but now I had to find my voice, to define what I wanted to express.

When I returned from Japan, I produced two small pieces (about 4" x 4") titled Yozakura "Cherry Blossoms at Night", and Aki "Autumn". These attempts were unsatisfactory, although I couldn't say why. I went back to my notes and my collection of materials. About the same time, I started to visit the Zen temple in Ann Arbor. Long periods of quiet meditation helped me begin to find a sense of personal direction. This, too, was a form of research for me as an artist. My current work focuses on expression. I am interested in creating images that communicate emotions to the audience.
I wish to express a soothing antidote for the loneliness and emptiness in life, a common and profoundly human feeling. I want to offer the audience relief and warmth, the chance to forget the uglinesss and sadness of the world.
I try to create a sense of relaxation and contentment: the feeling that one gets after working hard; the sensation of a soft, mild breeze caressing one's cheek; the faint sound of falling leaves; or the sparkle of reflections of the sun on water. The perception and contemplation of these qualities dispels feelings of emptiness and isolation. My goal is to capture and distill these moments in my work, achieving a universal poetry that I can share with the audience.
As an example, I want to produce a koi, or Japanese carp, realistically in metal. The koi is swimming in a pond with no exit. What can the koi do? It is the exaggeration and emphasis of what life is and how to react to it. I selected the koi from many varieties of fish because it is domesticated, trapped in its environment, the way that people are trapped in society. A no exit pond represents life or society, its frustrations and limitations. But life continues. I hope to place the koi in such a way that we can see his contentment in spite of his confinement.
But as you can imagine, it is extremely difficult to communicate complex emotions like these using only visual metaphors, especially in metal, which is a difficult material to work with. How can you express the sound of quietness, or the mild breeze of spring? How can 1 visually represent the subtle sound of the koi swimming? In attempt to resolve this problem, I began to write haiku to accompany each piece.
Haiku is simple but connotes a universe. It can express sound and light, and include reverberations and suggestions. I write haiku to create a verbal environment to guide my audience. Another solution was suggested to me when I saw an exhibition of the work of the late Japanese painter, Toshio Arimoto. He used paintings of small balls in his work, and it seemed to me that they could symbolize sound. As a result, I have been exploring the use
of round quartz balls to suggest sound or spirit in some of my pieces.

The result of all my research, both tangible and intangible—the marriage of heart, hand and head—can be seen in my current series on the theme "Gentle Solitude".

I. Snawfield— Dropped red Sound of a flower.
The snowfield is a metaphor for the universe, while the dropped flower represents natural death. The red flower in the snow is beautiful, implying that death is very natural. The spirit of the flower is now a part of the universe. The contrast of the colors emphasizes the warmth of the flower and the coldness of the snow, paralleling the warmth of life and the coldness of death. There is a sense of surprise to hear the delicate sound of quietness in time which makes the mind relax. The piece lets the audience know that we needn't fear death: it is as natural and beautiful as life.

2.  A frozen sea
Drifting cherry blossom Za Zen The frozen sea represents life and society, while I am the cherry blossom. I am drifting in life and confused, but if I row my boat correctly I will be O.K. The rose quartz is my spirit. I am confused so my self and my spirit are separated. Za Zen is meditation, through which I seek to find peace of mind.

3.  The game for shadows
Moon, pine, shoal Rising phantom I wish to express the very light sound of running water from a shallow stream under moonlight. You are alone. The moon reflects on the stream, a soft wind is blowing, maybe a spring or autumn wind. The spirit of the tree, the light reflections and the shoal and even the insects are playing music on the wind, conducted by the moon. Lift up your body and join them. There are lives around you, some shorter and some longer,' but all were born into this universe. They are playing their roles, and trying to relax you without complaining. Man is also a part of nature.

4. Winter Forest
Wearing a veil of sunset beivarm. The winter forest represents loneliness and emptiness. But the sunset looks like its covering up, protecting, trying to cheer up the forest. How nice to know that there is something out there to fill the emptiness and loneliness. Spring is coming and the leaves will start to make the world gTeen again. Emptiness and loneliness—these fears you create yourself. If you look at nature, you can accept the truth of coming and going, the truth of natural cycles. As nature offers joy to you, you can offer joy to other people.


There are many goals, methods and types of research in art. R. Buckminster Fuller once said that "Really great artists are scientists and the really great scientists are artists". He based this statement on the fact that creative thought is based, in great part, on intuition. This is because, he says, "the physical is forever transforming, while the metaphysical is for ever clarifyingly resolved towards imperishable simplicity and stability."
Art is an illuminating vocation that requires continual self-analysis in order to unveil the unknown both within and beyond the self. Artists move into the space between sources and influences, hoping to return with knowledge and vision in their hands. Art can touch every phase of human life and make it that much more comfortable and beautiful.
Research for the artist means being open to all of the stimuli in the world around and within him; being attuned to the sources and influences in the natural and cultural environments. Once this information is absorbed, the artist combines a thorough knowledge of materials and techniques with the analytical qualities of the intellect and the subtle suggestions of intuition. The creative process in art is the never-ending search for answers, even though none may ever be found.

June 1988
Hiroko Sato Pijanowski