Suiseki Art 4 – Emotional Expression (9/11)

-by Mas Nakajima

I found this stone on the Klamath River, and left it in the yard for over 10 years in the wind, rain, and sun. I was expecting that this process, known as youseki, would clean up the stains and show the beautiful white snowy mountain. But after 10 long years there was little color change – in particular the gray did not change to white. The years of youseki instead gave it a wabi-sabi and aware feeling. Wabi-sabi in suiseki is an antique and rusty look, and aware is a feeling of pathos, sorrow, misery, and wretchedness all combined. (These are very important ideas in Japanese art and do not translate to English very well).

What could I do with such a sad feeling stone? I had no motivation to finish this stone as a suiseki, but I kept noticing and looking at the stone. Shortly after 9/11/2001 this stone caught my eye again – it reminded me of the collapsed twin towers.

I wanted to use 4×14 Douglas Fir, which is very commonly used as a structural beam in a building. I chose this piece since both the proportions and the grain seemed to complement the stone. I tried to position the stone very carefully, looking at the wood grain as well as the overall balance and composition. After setting the stone, I carved a deep hole and burned the wood with a blow torch. This is the first time in my suiseki art that I went beyond just staining and polishing the wood.

The stone has to me a feeling of total destruction, and I have tried to use it to express the deep sadness of that day.

"9/11"; W 27" x D 13" x H 9 1/2"; stone on carved, burned Douglas Fir

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