Seattle U professor will carry gift of art and love to Japan

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by LORI MATSUKAWA / KING 5 News

KING5.com

Posted on March 6, 2012 at 7:08 PM

Updated Wednesday, Mar 7 at 1:21 PM

SEATTLE -- A Seattle University professor will travel to Japan Wednesday, carrying a gift of art and love. Naomi Kasumi's  long, silvery, silk and paper scrolls will create a forest of solace and solitude in the city of Fukushima. 

The digital design professor, a native of Kyoto, says it makes sense for an artist to give a gift of art. 

"I wanted to create a sacred space where people could cry and remember what happened on March 11 last year," said Kasumi. "Many people didn't even have time to mourn their loss and grief."

Symbolism abounds in her creation. Each of the nine scrolls is nine feet long, or 108 inches. One-hundred-eight is a significant number in Buddhism. Some scrolls contain tiny origami cranes, folded thoughtfully and intentionally by students at Seattle University. Aoi Umedate said, "Usually we make cranes for fun, we don't think about serious things."  But this time, she said, the folding was purposeful. "I really want to tell (the survivors) there are so many people thinking of them."

Some of the scrolls contain poems or sutra written on wax tiles tied together with cord. Kasumi ties each knot herself by hand. "This action," she says adamantly tying a knot, "gives me a sense of healing. I'm closing the wounds one by one."  

When the scrolls are set up in the meditation hall of the Buddhist temple in Fukushima, a wave of triangles will lead the viewer into the shimmering forest. From one side the waves are black, from the opposite side the waves are white. Kasumi says they show the duality of nature.

"Nature is very powerful and strong and also sometimes scary," she says."It takes our life away. But it also nurtures and gives us life, too."

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