Earlier this month I had a wonderful experience presenting kokeshi doll workshops to some of the 6th to 8th graders at Harford Day School in Bel Air, MD. After a short introduction to the history and making of kokeshi, I shared and we discussed some of my Kokeshi Project photographs. With most of my own kokeshi collection displayed in the classroom for inspiration, each of the students designed and painted their own doll. I was amazed by the students' creativity and focus on the project, as well as by the variety and quality of the kokeshi they produced. Special thanks to Japanese language teacher Sarah Smith who invited me to HDS and provided lots of helpful support!
I'm happy to share that 2 of my photographs have been selected for exhibitions!
This month, Miscanthus is part of a group exhibition at the Circle Gallery, Maryland Federation of Art in Annapolis, MD.Circle Gallery. This all-digital show, Focal Point, is more diverse than you might expect. The exhibition was curated by photographer and educator Adam Davies and runs through February 24.
Last November and December, Within Ice Grass was chosen to be part of the Small Wonders group exhibition also at the Circle Gallery. All work was no larger than 11" x 11" x 11". The show was curated by Roger Dunn, PhD, Professor Emeritus, Department of Art and Art History at Bridgewater State University, Massachusetts.
I first came to hold in my hands and appreciate kokeshi dolls when I was quite young.
By the time I met my great Aunt Elizabeth, who was born in Baltimore, Maryland, she was known to anyone outside of our family as Sister Mary Gloria. In 1928, she entered the Maryknoll Sisters, a Catholic missionary organization focused on “(serving) the needs of the people – the poor, the ailing and the marginalized”. Aunt Elizabeth was missioned to Fushun, Manchuria during the violence and upheaval of the outbreak of World War II and later to Kyoto, Japan.
My family was the fortunate beneficiary of many beautiful gifts from her time and travels in this part of the world. These included Japanese children’s books with her hand-typed English translations attached to each page, parasols made from silk and bamboo, scroll paintings, lacquer bowls and a dozen kokeshi dolls. These dolls were very special to us, and although they spent most of the time behind glass doors in a cabinet, we were free to take them out whenever we wanted to admire them.
An uncanny parallel that I now make between my Aunt Elizabeth and the kokeshi is the calm, kind, humble yet all-knowing expression and demeanor they both exude.
I now am the keeper of the original collection and it continues to grow.
This little guy is the star actor in a blog post on the website of my brother Charlie, a talented photographer. He exhibited his great sense of humor by using this kokeshi in a series of three photos to discuss depth of field and how selective focus can help the photographer tell a story. I won’t spoil the plot of his story here. You’ll have to check it out on his site. Thanks to my brother, this kokeshi has joined my collection as well as a marvelous hanging scroll (kakemono) he created using these photos.
It looked grey and bare out the window yesterday. Walking outside, it was cold and windy and I returned for my hat and gloves. But right outside my front door, there was a lot happening. The daffodils' leaves were pushing up to the sky, the buds on the fothergilla were fattening, the drooping clusters of flowers on the leucothoe were forming, the red shoots of the euphorbia were emerging from the soil, the soft fuzzy fiddleheads of the tassel fern were just beginning to peak out, the snowdrops were blooming, and the hellebores were beginning their early spring show!
Before knowing exactly where it was leading me, I called these photos of kokeshi my "creative project" and was a little mysterious about it to everyone but my husband Michael. As the collection of work grew, I shared little bits of it to friends and family to see reactions, get feedback, and talk through the possibilities. I want to thank all of you who have been so encouraging and patient while what is now “The Kokeshi Project” came into being.
Most of all, I want to thank Michael, who early on said, "I think you've got something there." He has been exceedingly supportive, thoughtful, and generous with the time given to me and the project. He continues to be the best sounding board, critic, and editor I could ever wish to have.