Yesterday I was in the midst of preparing to teach at the National Basketry Conference and hosting my sister and her two adorable kids when I got an email requesting that I let the film crew from “Who Wants To Come To Japan?” know who I wanted to meet and what I really want to do in Japan. I also should let them know why I wanted to meet them and what I wanted to learn from the artists. It got me thinking about how there are some basic, yet elusive, things I do need to know, even after working with the same material for 18 years. The searching and answers just get more complex and less apparent the further you go into the investigation of a material. Sometimes its very apparent what I need to learn. An accident in the studio can really put a magnifying glass in front of what one needs to learn. Other times I just have a subtle underlying feeling that there is more out there I crave to learn. I have had the experience, also, of seeing an artist work with a material, and learned something I didn’t even know I needed to learn. Bamboo is magic; When I think “I wish bamboo could do that” someone or some situation presents the call to the wish.
A little background-I was first introduced to Japanese bamboo art by Rob Coffland of Tai Modern Gallery and Nancy Moore Bess back in 2001. I had been working with bamboo for one and a half years when I meet both of them at SOFA Chicago. Nancy had just come out with an amazing book, “Bamboo in Japan“ exploring all the ways bamboo was used in Japanese culture. Tai Modern had a booth at SOFA Chicago, where they had brought in an artist from Japan to do bamboo art demonstrations at their booth. I was truly blown away by both Nancy and Rob, and of their generosity, knowledge, and love for the bamboo arts.
There are so many amazing bamboo artists living in Japan it was really hard to choose what I wanted to do and who I wanted to meet. There is so much to learn, and so many beautiful souls in Japan working with such an amazing material. I poured over my bamboo books (many of them published by Tai Modern Gallery) looking for what it was I most needed to learn. I printed out a map and wrote in where each artist lived, wondering what I could possibly fit in to the time I was given. It really seemed as if I could spend months or years, not days, in Japan learning about bamboo. Not only is there the desire to learn more about bamboo technically, there is also the desire to meet other artists working in the same material, for many reasons. There are a rare few i the United Sates working with bamboo. In pouring over my books I noticed a lot of artists lived in Beppu and wondered if the film crew would take me there.