Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Momigami



Joanne Weis
April 1, 2015
I agreed to share with you a technique I have begun to play with - Momigami.  While I haven't totally explored all the processes and possibilities, what I have played with I like. Before I plunge into my interpretation of an ancient Asian technique, though, I want to share a little background. 
One of the aspects of Japanese and Chinese art that I find most appealing is its pure simplicity. What at first may look accidental or erroneous may, in fact, be the core element of the piece.  The guiding principles are ancient and are only recently becoming part of our contemporary art  in an approach that you may have heard of or be familiar with: Wabi Sabi.
These are actually two sets of values that combine into a powerful approach to art, life and spirituality.  I stumbled onto Momigami through some reading on Wabi Sabi.  With that, I would like to share some aspects of Wabi Sabi today and tomorrow begin looking at Momigami.

WABI

Originally Wabi referred to the isolation of the hermit but in later centuries focused on the benefits of solitude.  Silence, simplicity, non-dependence on material goods, all of these were features embraced by a culture, including the artists. You may be familiar with Boro, an example shown here.  Scraps of dyed indigo discarded fabric was collected by the peasants as far back as 17th century Japan. The scraps would be stitched and woven together in beautiful patters and used to construct their daily garments, repaired often and frequently passed on to the next generation.  This is a perfect example of Wabi.



SABI:
Sabi is the application of simplicity and naturalness to the aesthetic.  It implies natural process by being uneven, irregular, and unpretentious.  There is often a flow to the piece that draws you in, and encourages reflection, the core of Wabi.  While much of this art is asymmetrical, there is a peacefulness that can be found in simply experiencing the art.

One contemporary textile artist who espouses Wabi Sabi is Cas Holmes.  In samples such as the one seen below, you can see these feature of irregularity, spontaneity and flow.




WABI-SABI:
A number of books and articles have been recently written on the subject of Wabi Sabi.  While I am not an expert, I have enjoyed some of this reading.  One of my strongest memories of a visit to Japan a few years ago was sitting in a bamboo grove, on a bench, listening to silence with a number of other people, participating in a tea ceremony.  I can still hear, feel, see and taste the experience because it was so simple but so profound.  I made a piece of textile art at that time, celebrating the role of food in ritual.  Inadvertently, I think I applied the concepts of Wabi-Sabi.





Momigami is a Japanese technique that truly fits into these values.  I felt it was important to put it into this frame of reference before jumping into my way of making this wonderful paper.

6 comments:

  1. Nice story, and I am very curious about the sequel.

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  2. Excellent explanation. I'm looking forward to all your posts.

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  3. Great explanation. Can't wait to see your process.

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  4. I look forward to seeing more of this... it is an area I have not heard much about, so it will be refreshing to expand my horizons!

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  5. wonderful examples. Looking forward to learning.

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  6. Thank you for the explanation. I like the pieces that you have shown and you have certainly made me keen to see what comes next.

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