At the lovely opening reception for September Song, the group show I was a part of at Mockingbird Gallery in Bend, Oregon, many people asked me about my use of pearls and jewels with my birds. Like many an idea or inspiration, there is a story…
I love simplicity—of form, composition, expression. I resonate with the Japanese way of restraint and intention. I endeavor always to bring these elements into my art. It is an extension of who I am. This piece brings together two loves from my childhood: the subject matter and sensibility of the Renaissance and also of Japanese art.
When I was a child, my parents brought me to the Chicago Museum of Art and I was drawn to the stunning light and details of the pearls and lace in the paintings I saw there. I was enamored. I couldn’t believe how an artist could take a three dimensional object and make it look so real and tactile on a two dimensional medium. I don’t have the patience to paint lace but the symbolism of pearls and my desire to utilize their gentle elegance in my compositions made them an exciting subject matter to explore. For me, pearls represent a gift from the heart, a token of love. I treasure the string of pearls my father bought me when I was a young woman. We give pearls as gifts and we wear them by our hearts.
In this piece, I also included an antique chazutzu, a Japanese tea holder. I learned the art of the Japanese tea ceremony and flower arranging in my 20s. By that time, I was already in love with Hiroshige and Japanese printmaking and painting. I was 7 when my parents received a book of artwork by Japanese masters, and I was again enamored, this time with the artists’ ability to speak such beautiful volumes with minimal strokes and subject matter.
I think we say volumes with the small acts of beauty and kindness we share with each other. We may not always speak or write the most eloquently, but we can still communicate what we see and feel about the world and share them. When we give and receive these beautiful gifts, it is my hope that they are treasured.