Tradition and Modernity Gel for A Night of Ikebana at AAC

Arrangements by the DC Ikenobo Ikebana Society in response to art created by Radio Sebastian at a previous event at the Hillyer Art Space

Arrangements by the DC Ikenobo Ikebana Society at a previous event at the Hillyer Art Space in response to art by Radio Sebastian – image courtesy of the artists

As a preface to another fantastic GREEN ACRES public program we’ve invited AAC visiting artist Radio Sebastian to introduce you to the art and tradition of Ikebana.

Yumiko Blackwell, one of the artists behind Radio Sebastian, has always had a life full of flowers. Her mother Reiko Blackwell is an artist who will deny any “artistic” ability with paint brushes and pencils, but instead she paints with flowers. As a young woman in the rural hills of Japan she became versed in the Ikenobo school of Ikebana, the Japanese art of flower arranging. In her mid-twenties, she moved to the rural hills of South Carolina and continued practicing the tradition.

 

Yumiko says, of her childhood:

Vases of all shapes lined the china cabinets and the Ikenobo Society’s calendar was prominent on our wall. When I was a teenager, my mother formally inducted me into this art. She would take me with her on her Japanese restaurant flower arranging side job and would volunteer me to translate at events of the Blue Ridge chapter of the Ikenobo society.

There is a sharp, clean aesthetic to Japanese flower arranging, with a bright elegance, which I dare say my mother naturally exudes. The balanced asymmetry and the tall vertical lines common in traditional Ikenobo arrangements have pervaded my aesthetic ideals: my most favorite piece of art is Brancusi’s Bird in Space.

Unlike many flower arrangements–where a sometimes-beautiful, sometimes-haphazard assortment of flowers fills a vase to overflowing–Ikenobo has rules to be followed.

Arrangements by the DC Ikenobo Ikebana Society at a previous event at the Hillyer Art Space in response to art by Radio Sebastian - image courtesy of the artists

Arrangements by the DC Ikenobo Ikebana Society at a previous event at the Hillyer Art Space in response to art by Radio Sebastian – image courtesy of the artists

For instance, in the most formal arrangements there are either seven or nine basic parts and strict rules of proportion that must be followed. The arrangement should have the illusion of just one unified stem emerging from the water. Leaves and stems play an essential role.

Elements are manipulated to coax out their “natural” beauty: stalks are gently bent to accentuate a curve, leaves are trimmed to enhance their naturally dramatic lines, wiring is even used to capture the right form. There is a great respect for the “inherent nature of plants.” These rules, rather than stifle creativity, facilitate invention and expression like the constraints of a canvas.

For the Ikenobo Ikebana event at AAC September 12, from 6:30-7:30 p.m., we continue a long historic tradition. Ikebana has a history stemming from the medieval era: dating from 1462, the Ikenobo school is the oldest extant school. Moreover, there is a long tradition of pairing flower arrangement with painted scrolls established in the 16th century. These arrangements, placed in alcoves dedicated to artistic appreciation called tokonoma, were to “receive and stand the pictures” for their mutual enhancement. It feels only natural that the {Agri Interior} exhibition, full of polymer-clay flower from Radio Sebastian and artwork constructed out of plant parts by Pam Rogers, continues this tradition.

Arrangements by the DC Ikenobo Ikebana Society at a previous event at the Hillyer Art Space in response to art by Radio Sebastian – image courtesy of the artists

Arrangements by the DC Ikenobo Ikebana Society at a previous event at the Hillyer Art Space in response to art by Radio Sebastian – image courtesy of the artists

-Written by AAC Visiting Artists, Radio Sebastian: Yumiko Blackwell and Corwin Levi

 “Night of Ikebana” will be held Thursday, September 12, from 6:30-7:30 p.m. Admission is free and open to the public, but space is limited, so register now!  The {Agri Interior}: New Works by Pam Rogers and Radio Sebastian exhibition runs until October 13, 2013 in the AAC Wyatt Gallery

 

 

 

 

 

 

The GREEN ACRES exhibition is made possible by an Emily Hall Tremaine Exhibition Award. The Exhibition Award program was founded in 1998 to honor Emily Hall Tremaine. It rewards innovation and experimentation among curators by supporting thematic exhibitions that challenge audiences and expand the boundaries of contemporary art. Emily Hall Tremaine Exhibition Award

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