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Archive for the ‘Book Arts’ Category

Cut-Art By J. A. Christensen

I am currently teaching a class on Kiri-e (Japanese paper cutting) at the Minnesota Center for Book Arts.  It is such a pleasure to slow down to the pace of paper, cutting one shape at a time.  In its purest form, Kiri-e allows us to literally hold the tension between the dark and light aspects of our lives while focusing on the simple art of cutting paper.

In Kiri-e, it is essential to have both dark and light in order to create a work of art.  Without contrast, it is impossible to see anything.  For example, try to imagine a picture of a black bear in a cave at night or a white polar bear in a dazzling blizzard and you get the idea.  Without contrast, an image is impossible to see, leaving us with just an intellectual concept rather than a work of art.

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In the same way that contrast is essential to all of the arts, contrast is also the key to living authentically in this world.  Experiencing fully the darks and lights of our lives can be a tremendous gift, allowing us to know what is really important.  Contrast brings the essence of our lives to the foreground.  When we embody both, rather than focusing only on the light or dark sides of life, we find a new kind of balance which is fully alive and healing for ourselves and those around us.  The root of the word “to heal” means to become whole.  By consciously embracing both the dark and light aspects of life, we become whole.

Another lesson Kiri-e teaches is how to slow down and really pay attention.  Because we are constantly moving between dark and light shapes while making Kiri-e, it is very easy to get confused and lose the way if we try to move ahead too quickly.  In order to create Kiri-e, it is essential to take things one step at a time.  Through the practice of cutting one shape at at time, we learn through our senses of touch, sight and sound, as well as through our posture and body position how to slow down and be fully present.  It also becomes clear very quickly that pushing through when we are tired or when we lose our focus can ruin an entire piece of work in an instant.  These lessons are learned non-verbally, through the body.  Later, if we stop to think about it, we may realize that through the act of cutting paper, one step at a time, we have come a little closer to who we really are in the process.  As is said in Zen, “train the body and the mind will follow”.

Like many of the Japanese arts, Kiri-e, when practiced mindfully, can become a very satisfying means of growth and transformation.  It’s also a really fun way to create satisfying works of art.  I am delighted to have the opportunity to share this humble art form with my students at MCBA.  I look forward to introducing more of the Japanese paper based arts into my classes in the future.

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M*A*S*H* Signpost

For the past month, I have been working on a very special book for Amy at Pathways – A health crisis resource center.  After many years of service, Amy and her husband will be leaving shortly to begin a new life in Kentucky.  Although I have only known Amy for a short time, her radiant spirit and warm friendship have enriched my life greatly.  She has been a constant source of encouragement, support and good humor.  I am honored to have had the opportunity to work with her at Pathways.

Thanks to Dan Averitt and Tim Thorpe at Pathways, I had the opportunity to create this very special going away present.  Together, we made the watercolors that were used in this book, while dreaming provided the inspiration for the shape the book and it’s box would take.  In one dream, the image of the signpost from M*A*S*H* appeared, suggesting signposts along the way for Amy’s journey.  Knowing how much she loves her basket of inspirational cards, I used words from the cards for the signs in this flag book.  It was great fun learning how to make this new structure, fueled by the creative energy and guidance of the dream.  Bon Voyage Amy and best wishes for a safe journey to your new home.  We will all miss you!

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As many of you already already know, Japan is very dear to me.  My dream books, which are currently on display at the Bookhouse, are a real mixture of Japanese and Western influences, just like I am.

This Sunday, I will give a presentation on crisis dreams followed by time for questions and a group dreamwork exercise.  Together, we will explore how our dreams, on the collective level, are responding to the devastating events in Japan.

There is no charge for this event, but I will have a box available for donations to the Red Cross.  If you are unable to come, but would like to donate to relief efforts in Japan, click here.

If you are interested in learning more about what is going on in Japan, feel free to connect with me on Facebook. I’ve been posting stories, articles, images and poetry from friends in Japan.

Finally, I’m proud to say that my son Hiroshi immediately volunteered to go over to Japan and help with the US Navy.  He arrived safely in Japan a few days ago.  Please keep him and the people of Japan in your thoughts and prayers.
Date Sunday March 20, 2011
Time 3 PM
Place The Bookhouse in Dinkytown, 429 14th Avenue SE, Minneapolis, MN  55414
Phone (612) 331-1430
Cost Free of charge, donations accepted for the Red Cross

Questions
Contact me at 952-412-4786 or e-mail me at SheilaAsato@comcast.net

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It’s my pleasure to announce another exhibition of my dream books.  This time I will be giving two presentations on the work.  I hope to see you there.

Embodying Dreams Exhibition
More handmade dream books

Dates February 8 – April 30, 2011
Place The Bookhouse in Dinkytown
429 14th Avenue SE
Minneapolis, MN  55414
Phone  (612) 331-1430

Hours
Monday – Saturday: 10am-10pm
Sunday: 12pm – 8pm

Reception & Artist’s Talk
Thursday March 3, 7pm
In this presentation, I will demonstrate how the magic books work and have demo books available for people to play with.

Artist’s Talk – Embodying the Imagination in the Book Arts
Sunday March 20, 3pm
In this presentation, I will talk about how the creative process, as experienced in dreams, informs my work in the arts and healing.

Questions
Contact me at 952-412-4786 or e-mail me at SheilaAsato@comcast.net

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I am pleased to announce that I will begin teaching at the Minnesota Center for Book Arts

Embodying Dreams in the Book Arts

Six Thursdays: January 13, 20, 27, February 3, 10, 17; 6-9pm
All skill levels welcome

How does the structure of the book relate to the content within? Are some book structures better suited for working with dreams than others? How can the act of making a book become a form of dreamwork in and of itself? These are just a few of the questions we will explore in this class as we make a bag book, meander book and multi-section flexagon.

Throughout the course a variety of methods for working with dreams will be introduced as a way of developing content for the books. These exercises will include journaling, Healing Collage(SM), embodied imagination work and Ullman’s projective dreamwork.

Core or Advanced Certificate: 18 hours, Category D

Dates: Thursday evenings – Jan. 13, 20, 27, Feb. 3, 10 & 17
Time:  6:00 PM – 9:00 PM
Level: All skill levels welcome
Place: Minnesota Center for the Book Arts
Cost:  $280 ($250 MCBA members) + $30 supply fee

Registration:  Click on this link:  Adult Workshops for Winter/Spring 2010-11, scroll down the page to my class and then follow the instructions for online registration.

Questions:  Contact me at 952-412-4786 or e-mail me
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Pausing at Midlife Exhibition

If you haven’t seen my show yet, it’s not too late.

Date: October 7, 2010 – February 3, 2011
Place: St. Mary’s University Library, LaSalle Hall – Room 108, 2500 Park Avenue, Minneapolis, MN 55404
Questions:  952-412-4786 or E-mail me

About This Exhibition
What kind of books are capable of holding dreams, memories and waking life reflections together in a way that is true to their original nature? How does the structure of a book affect the content within? Is it possible to embody images from dreams and memories in the book arts?

These are just some of the questions that I have focused on since graduating from the human development program at St. Mary’s University of MN in 2006. For this Art on Park exhibition, I have taken this opportunity at midlife to pause and reflect upon the journey thus far while creating a new body of work which integrates my dreams, memories and reflections into a series of handmade books.  In my books you will also find a unique mixture of Western and Japanese influences.

Embodied Imagination Work

In 2010, I completed a three year training course with Robert Bosnak and Jill Fischer to become a certified Embodied Imagination Coach.  This exhibition is also my final project for that program.

Thank you for all your support.  I look forward to dreaming, creating and healing together with you in 2011!

Sweet dreams,
Sheila Asato

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“Much of the beauty that arises in art comes from the struggle an artist wages with his limited medium.”  – Henri Matisse


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These are photos of some of the books I am in the process of making for my upcoming show at St. Mary’s University in October.  Today I am at the International Association for the Study of Dreams conference in North Carolina where I will be speaking about this project and how the process of making these books relates to dreams.  Once I have given my presentation, I’ll post the Power Point slides up on my website.

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