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Photo taken by: Masashi Miyake
Event Description

German Town School Visit

When we did our Calligraphy Workshop at school or library in the past, we never got a chance to have it proper setup simply because we didn’t have enough fund to prepare all the necessary tools for the participants. There was a time we used 30 to 40 cat-food cans to substitute ink cup, and we were very pound of it. So, when the Arts Mid-Hudson’s former director, Polly-san, introduced us to a Germantown High School art class teacher, Mrs. Kristine Levy, last Spring and told me the school would apply for grant for our project, I came up with an idea that we’d prepare traditional setup as close as possible so that the students are able to experience the rare opportunity of true nature of calligraphy atmosphere. The budget was still a little tight so it required a lot of research on reasonable yet proper and elegant tools, but it was worth it as we got some good materials under the budget more than we hoped for. There were 2 Calligraphy and 3 Origami classes from 9:48am to 2:48pm with 8 to 14 students in each class in one day. It’s Art Class rather than Workshop, however, due to the limited time we couldn’t teach them the basics of calligraphy techniques thoroughly. But at least they learned how to make Sumi-ink by grinding ink-stick on Suzuri ink-stone rather than using the commercially manufactured bottled ink, and that was something we never did before. As it turned out, while students may have not understood the consequence but we realized that making Sumi-ink on Suzuri was as important as writing letters with brush. Because, after all, Calligraphy for non-Japanese is most likely not a form of practicing to improve writing but for something entirely different purpose. So, it is very important for people to know that while they may not mean to study calligraphy to learn Japanese language but it could also be a form of meditation or to understand the philosophy in Japanese Calligraphy Art. As for Origami, students had choice of Cube or Crane. Neither was too complicate but for a starter the 42 minutes was just about enough to complete the task. We were told many of the students are from farms. So it is understandable that they may not get to see Japanese art in their daily life as often as people do in the city. So it wouldn’t be surprised if they had no idea what to do with it while sitting in front of a piece of white Hanshi-paper with black Suzuri ink-stone and a thick brush, and it may have given them a little wave of culture shock. I can’t help but sincerely hope that when some of them saw a Japanese calligraphy writing in their future he/she would remember that was what they experienced today, and they may find an invisible bridge in their heart. Their teacher, Mrs. Kristine, had such a warm, pleasant and uplifting smile that we immediately felt very comfortable talking to her like we knew her before. She was eager to try both Origami and Calligraphy herself, and sure enough she had proved she was indeed a talented art teacher as she did beautiful writing. We sincerely thank her for her kind hospitality and, most of all, for the grant she had applied for us. At last, to our volunteers, thank you, as always! Midori Shinye Project Leader
Last updated 11/1/2015 Copyright 2006 - 2015   Mid Hudson Japanese Community Association. All rights reserved.
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