Wabi Sabi

Tue, Mar 1st - Sat, Mar 26th

through Sat, Mar 26th

March 2022

Sun Valley Museum of Art

191 5th St E, Ketchum, ID 83340, USA

Sun Valley Museum of Art

Four contemporary artists, two ceramists and two fiber artists, explore the Japanese notion of wabi sabi and ideas around imperfection, impermanence, repair and transformation. Often defined as flawed beauty, the wabi sabi aesthetic connotes asymmetry, economy and the forces of nature and time.

Museum Hours: Tuesday to Friday 10am – 5pm, Saturday 10am – 4pm.

Admission to the Museum is always free

Wabi Sabi

According to Japanese legend, an aspiring student of the tea ceremony, Sen no Rikyū (1522–1591), sought an apprenticeship with a recognized tea master, Takeno Joo. To test RIkyū’s commitment and skill, the master asked the young man to tend his garden. The apprentice thoroughly cleaned the garden and then carefully raked the ground until it was perfect. But before showing his work, Rikyū shook a cherry tree so that its flowers fell to the ground. This touch of imperfection brought beauty to the garden, ushering in the concept of flawed beauty known in Japanese as wabi sabi.

Four artists with widely differing histories and cultural traditions created the artwork in this exhibition, but each approaches their work with a respect for the concepts embedded in wabi sabi. With roots in Zen Buddhism, wabi translates as “incomplete” or “imperfect” and refers to the beauty found in asymmetric, simple, quiet forms; sabi describes the enhancements of aging, irregularity and the impermanence of all things. Nuanced and reflective, the aesthetic is linked to solitude and contemplation.

This exhibition takes the traditional Japanese aesthetic of wabi sabi, which is both a philosophy and a design approach, into the 21st century, exploring the ways that mending and repair, restoration and transience remain compelling notions for many artists. Each of the artists in the exhibition makes objects that celebrate natural, unrefined and imperfect forms. Mark Newport and Yeesookyung repair and reimagine new objects out of damaged or broken ones. Their fragmented, colorful, mended pieces celebrate ideas of renewal. A respect for nature and purity of material is evident in Shiro Tsujimura’s ceramic work and in Frances Trombly’s fiber pieces. Both approach their practice with a deep respect for their medium and a desire to simplify form while challenging tradition.

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