“Mended ceramics foremost convey a sense of the passage of time. The vicissitudes of existence over time, to which all humans are susceptible, could not be clearer than in the breaks, the knocks, and the shattering to which ceramic ware too is subject. This poignancy or aesthetic of existence has been known in Japan as mono no aware, a compassionate sensitivity . . . It may be perceived in the slow inexorable work of time (sabi) or in a moment of sharp demarcation between pristine or whole and shattered . . . A mirage of ‘before’ suffuses the beauty of mended objects.”
-Barlett, Flickwerk: The Aesthetics of Mended Japanese Ceramics
I first encountered the Japanese philosophy + aesthetic Wabi-Sabi a little over a year ago, + the Japanese art kintsugi a couple of years before that. Both captured my imagination from the first encounter, compelling me to study the philosophies + explore ways of incorporating them into my art practice.
Wabi-Sabi honors the imperfect, the humble, the hand-made + the impermanent. It seeks to embrace the beauty found in the changing of seasons, things, nature + our own lives. Kintsugi is the Japanese art first practiced in the 15th Century of repairing broken pottery with lacquer dusted or mixed with powdered gold, silver, or platinum. The work is stunning.
At the end of May, I hosted my second Wabi Sabi + Pottery Art Experience for 12 courageous participants/artists that incorporated kintsugi. The table was full + creativity was in full bloom all over my studio. Each person engaged in abstract intuitive + creative introspective practices designed to encourage them to honor the gift of their intuition through listening deeply, experimenting with various textures + techniques, risk taking, creative play + integrating their "mistakes" in the creation of their art piece.
It was sacred. It was beautiful.
The workshop exceded all of my expectations. Though I didn't make a piece during the workshop, I received my own takeaways from the process while guiding each person. I still find myself leaning into some of the wisdom the process revealed regarding the importance of patience in the mending what has been broken + trusting the creative process. I kept hearing, "Don't be afraid to risk + let go."
A few of the participants graciously shared their takeaways from our time at the table with me + agreed to have excerpts from their reflections anynomously shared with you. You'll find the excerpts, rich with honesty + vulnerability with photographs from our time, below.
Take a read. I think you'll find a takeaway or two and you 'll find that life is worth leaning into as well.
"During the art workshop, I became present to the beauty of brokenness. I began to wonder what else in my life needs to be pulled apart, unraveled and cracked open?
In western culture, there is a stigma associated with brokenness. We are very results driven and like to hide our flaws...
... I saw new things and new ideas through the cracks. As I slowly held the pieces back together with my "magical and golden glue", the creative process became freeing, meditative and calming. No loger relying on myself to create art, I was able to utilize ancient Japanese wisdom, the energy brought forth by the artists around me, and the inspiration that comes from unexpected "mistakes."
Lanecia A. Rouse Tinsley