Judy Shintani and Healing Art

Anyone who has lost his home to a climate of fear has a deep understanding of mankind’s capability for blind betrayal. The father of artist Judy Shintani was an American teenager when he and his family were interned at Tule Lake Incarceration Camp during WWII. Click here to read more.

 

 

Processing the overwhelming world

Sometimes ugly thoughts, disappointing feelings, overwhelming emotions get stuck in me. They come in from social media, from conversations with friends and family, from the radio, standing in line at the store, at work, holding space for others, my own mind. I try to let them rollover me, to hold my own space, and to remember who I am. But it doesn’t always happen automatically.

How do I process these feelings? What do I do with them? I felt frozen. I stayed with those feelings for a while and tuned into where they were sitting in my body. My heart felt constricted. My breath was not flowing. My throat was closed. The message I got was. “Express and release”.

I decided to paint but cleaning a space on my studio table would cause more stress which I didn’t need right now. So I went outside and set-up a place to paint on my fence. The action of creating a new painting area felt positive. The sunshine felt good.

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I selected large leftover packing paper and red and black colors to work with. As I stood back to look at the painting area before I began, I thought it looked like an archway and seeing that, I felt curious and hopeful.

The paper was hung like on a clothesline and as I painted  them they moved around, floating up with the breeze and moving with each 30043019542_dc6d9d1562_zbrush stroke. I thought about how life is sometimes – how thoughts and information float and move – it is not always easy to be steady and still in the midst of what’s happening in the world. I liked making the large black strokes – moving my body up and down the length of the paper.

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Next I added the vibrant red with slashing brushstrokes. The way the color stood out from the black was satisfying. I then splattered a mixture of the black and red and it looked like purple flying color. For me, purple is a sacred color and it came about serendipitously.

I noticed my emotions were shifting as I was creating. My throat was no longer clinched, I breathed as I worked, my heart felt open again. I no longer felt heavy and weighted down – as if I had purged what I had been too full of and what I did not want to hold and carry around anymore. I could see it was outside on me now and in the painting.

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I looked at the paper archway and realized I had created a portal to travel through to the other side of where I was and to another place. I took a big breath and felt free.

 

 

 

 

 

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If you are interested in learning more about creating in this way and would like to work with me one-on-one or in a community class please go to my website for more information:

http://www.judykitsunestudio.com/

 

Experiences ripple through all families, interview by Anna Vaughan

 

“Ultimately, I’m working with the idea of how experiences ripple through generations. The red line that traces us is like a lifeline that connects us. Experiences ripple through all families. It just so happens that in my particular family, a big experience was the internment. And I wanted the viewers to relate to that experience, by relating to their own family experiences,” Judy Shintani. Continue here: http://abramsclaghorn.com/?p=2596

Growing little librarians

This is the first toy I’ve seen this year that I’m considering buying for my niece!

“Little Librarian will provide book lovers with everything they need to transform their book collection into a library. Kids can practice the important skills of organizing, sharing, borrowing, and returning. Book pockets, check out cards, library cards and bookmarks are just like the ones from a real library. Little Librarians will issue overdue notices and awards. Favorite book memories can be stored in your reading journal and shared with friends. To get started, just add books! ”

Check it out here.

My mother’s gifts

As some of you know my mother, Doris Shintani, left this earth on August 13, 2009. She had Alzheimer’s disease for about 12 years leading up to her death. Recently I spoke about the many gifts she gave me at a community memorial and at the United Methodist Church in Lodi.

As a healing and an honoring of her, I decided to make art around these gifts.

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The first small piece I made was a red chair drawn and sewn on to a piece of birch bark. I wove the red thread hanging from the chair into a braid and at the end of this I tied a red envelop. Inside the envelop I placed 3 needles. I wanted to convey my sadness and the empty place in my heart. And I wanted to convey the gift she gave me – the ability to always create my path and to stand on my own two feet.

The other piece I am working on is a real meditation. When I was going through my mother’s photos I found my mothers childrenthe pictures of her classes. She taught first through fourth grades. I thought about those 23 years she had been a teacher. She was very dedicated to her students. My mother had touched so many of their lives. Some students even sent her letters through the years. I decided to make a bead of each student’s face and to string them together. I have made about 150 beads and have 500 more to go. The core of each bead is made of joss paper which is used for funeral rituals. The art making has helped me through my grief. I made beads sitting in waiting rooms during my father’s surgeries. I made more beads on plane trips. I continue to make beads in my studio. They are keeping me connected to the impact my mother had on my life and on the lives of others. The gift to make a passionate difference in others lives is a gift I want to keep giving.

minimal art by preschoolers

I love the shape placement and simplicity of these collages done by 3 and 4 year old artists in my preschool class. It doesn’t take a lot of expensive materials for kids to come up with terrific art – cut up colored paper , glue sticks, and colored pens. I provided them with already cut shapes in different colors and showed a couple of examples and they went to it.

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“Dirty Wow Wow”, and other love stories

I have to say I just LOVE this book. From the title “Dirty Wow Wow” you may wonder what in the heck is this about?

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It’s a lovely collection and stories about love affairs with childhood toys, mostly the cuddly threadbare kind we carried around with us and slept with. The images of these well loved animals are so heart touching that you have to take a look. Not only can you purchase the book, but you can also go to a site to check out the gallery http://www.dirtywowwow.com/index.html

So the question is, what about your own stuffed friend? I had a humpty dumpty that my mother said I carried on whole baby talk conversations with in my crib and Ander had a Winnie the Pooh (but don’t tell him I told you so!)

Hina Matsuri, Girl’s Day, March 3

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When I was a young girl, my mother and I would set up my Girl’s Day dolls on March 3. My grandmother purchased these for me and to this day they are one of my most prized possessions. The Castle came all packed in a box and had to be assembled and the dolls unwrapped and set-up. I felt a little guilty for having such a lavish set of dolls because my mother’s dolls had been burned during the war because they could not have any Japanese materials.

In Japan they have quite large doll displays, which makes mine look minuscule. We never got into all the other rituals around Girl’s Day, but I found out that “it is a day that Japanese families pray for their daughters’ happiness and prosperity. Families with daughters display special dolls arranged to reflect social order. Peach blossoms, cube and diamond-shaped rice cakes, and white sake are part of this celebration. The peach blossoms are symbolic of several ‘feminine’ traits as well as happy marriage. They are used in Hinamatsuri rituals to remind the participants that girls should aspire to these qualities.” via trendhunter. I’m glad we didn’t go through all that since it sounds so sexist!

Next year I plan on having a Girls Day celebration in my new, larger art studio for all us gals and any little girls that want to show up.