Wednesday, September 12, 2012


What is wabi-sabi? No, it’s not a type of sushi. It’s a Japanese phrase that’s hard to sum up in just a few words. Wabi-sabi is about appreciating the beauty in something imperfect sort of like shabby chic. There’s a good description of it at this link: Wabi-sabi is the theme that Mom and I have chosen for an art show that we are having at the Topsfield, MA library in February 2013.

I first heard about wabi-sabi from Ellis Paul at a house concert he gave in Billerica, MA. He wrote a song called Wabi-Sabi for a kid’s album. Like the best kid’s songs this song is great for all ages. Not only was singing along on the chorus at the concert fun, but I was intrigued by this new-to-me term, wabi-sabi. In a way the term describes my approach to art. I look for something interesting and beautiful in everything around me even if it’s not something that’s typically considered beautiful. The mountains of Alaska that have appeared in some of my recent artwork are generally accepted to be beautiful but they are also rough and time worn. The deconstructed silk-screen process that I have used to create fabrics from textured objects is a perfect example of creating a wabi-sabi artwork. The image that you create initially with thickened dyes on your silk screen deteriorates as you create multiple prints from the same silk screen. There are no clear, crisp images created, but the screen-prints are unique and have a crumbly, aged type of beauty.
Art Quilt in Progress with Deconstructed Silk-Screen Printed Fabrics

For the Topsfield library exhibit Mom and I plan to incorporate photographs taken in Topsfield into our artwork. Topsfield’s history and rural character fit perfectly into our wabi-sabi theme.  We plan to take a day trip there to take photographs, but we also would like to invite you to share your digital photos of Topsfield with us. Mom put our deadline to get photos to us as September 30 in her blog post about this, but since I’m slow to post about this, I’d like to extend that deadline to October 31.

Here's basically what we have in mind:

Send us your digital photograph(s) of your favorite place(s) in Topsfield along with a brief statement about why you chose that particular place or thing and just what you treasure about it.  We'll print the photo on fabric and incorporate it into an artwork--perhaps adding embroidery or painting, for example.  We'll also incorporate something of your story into the artwork giving you credit for the photo and the story.

The artwork could end up something like this one that's still in progress which has photos of Glacier Bay, Alaska in it:
Art Quilt in Progress with Photographs Printed on Papers Treated with InkAid

Here are some important "rules" for this project:
  • You must have personally taken any photograph you submit and you must be willing to let us use it as we see fit--e.g., cropping it, merging it with other images, etc.
  • We will own the artwork produced.  If the artwork should sell, we would share up to 20% of the proceeds with you or if you wish to purchase the artwork yourself, we would offer you a 20% discount on the purchase price.  (It is possible that we would incorporate images from more than one person into an artwork.  In that case the 20% "commission" would be split among the people whose images are used.)
  • We do not guarantee that we will use all images submitted to us.
  • Images and stories should be e-mailed to by October 31, 2012.
We'll share our progress on this here in my blog or in Mom’s.

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