January 15, 2008

My Devotion to Stained Glass -6


My Devotion to Stained Glass -6 May 9, 2004

"Insects in a Dream" 1990 Excellence Award at the Kyushu Glass Art
Exhibition 90
I learned what is important to an artist while working on "Zen,"
as I mentioned in my previous essay (No.5).

I knew I would never be able to produce good art if I drove myself
into a corner, trying too hard to create good designs and pieces.

It is quite natural to have conflict as an artist. But it is important
to be natural as much as possible - to relax and to be honest with
oneself even in a difficult situation....... Working on "Zen" gave me
the opportunity to develop this idea.

The piece, "Insects in a Dream," also influenced me a lot. First, it gave me the
opportunity to think about the things that are importance in being an artist.
Also, it gave me confidence and greatly changed me as an artist, let alone as a
human being.

This is my most precious work, which guided me to a turning point in my life
as an artist.
I exerted the utmost effort on this work - one reason is because I
intended to send this to a general invitation exhibition. Another
reason is that I had very special feeling toward the work.

As I wrote earlier in this "Blog," my son had been suffering from an incurable
disease, muscular dystrophy.
The life of my family completely changed once we became aware of his illness.
We had to change our way of living and thinking as well as our sphere of
daily activities.

My wife devoted her time to caring for my son as a mother.
And, although I was his father, there was no room in their relationship for me
to step in; I just couldn't do anything. I wanted to do something for him as father.
I thought every day about what I could do for him even though I knew it was
impossible for me to act in the same way as my wife was for him.

There was only one thing I could do for him: to make stained glass.
I desperately wanted to make a piece for my son and decided to use my son's
favorite insect design in my work.
I was attracted by the insect which he had scribbled on my sketch book in ball-point pen.
I put his insect (which later became the logo of my studio) in the center with
my clumsy insects entwined in a playful touch.
I really enjoyed producing this work. I exchanged a lot of conversations with those

This was the first piece presented to my son from his father.
I didn't need any logic, theory or reason to make this piece.
I had nothing but pure love toward my son.
I didn't care about creating a good design, my technique or other people's opinion.
I had never experienced this kind of feeling before.
I drew a design and made the work as free as I felt.
What else did I need?
People are born with a pure nature, impulses warmly coming up from the
bottoms of our hearts. . . . ..
I have learned the most important thing as an artist is to make each work
with full affection and great care.

I felt as if I had suddenly discovered a valuable treasure. My stance
on my pieces and my way of thinking have greatly changed since then.
I want to make artwork from which we can feel love and appreciation.
I want to make pieces which give people a warm and
gentle feeling.
My dream spreads over the sky.
My honest feeling is that I don't want to make artwork based on theory and
Of course, I don't deny the importance of theory and knowledge, because
we need them for the process of learning.
But, I really think art made from pure affection and devotion truly surpasses them.

It seems the clue lies in the place beyond the theory and reason.
I think it would be wonderful to find my own aesthetics and have a
dialogue with myself, and act honestly according to
my feelings.

Posted by TT at 02:34 PM

June 04, 2004

My devotion to stained glass -5


"ZEN", Tea Ceremony Room at Mr. A' residence (1988)

This is one of the commissions which I have been very impressed with among my entire works. I obtained this commission 5 or 6 years after I started working in stained glass, and it has given me an influence in various ways later.

At that time, I was just getting interested in Japanese design. I wanted to install a stained glass work in contemporary design with monotone (black and white) into a traditional Japanese tatami-mat room. I wanted to harness the sunlight streaming into the room to make shadows reflected on "SHOJI", the Japanese paper sliding doors.

I got a well-timed commission from an architect who happened to be one of my close friends. It was a wish come true: he asked me to design a stained glass work for an informal tea ceremony room. I was delighted and spent whole one month drawing out ideas.

My enthusiasm became too much, and I became too self-conscious to do a good design.
I grappled with ideas working every day until dawn, but the right idea didn't come.
I couldn't produce anything, no matter how hard I tried. I was in the throes of creation
....and I got impatient. The more I fretted, the more difficult it became for me to draw a design...

I was having a hard time and the deadline was coming closer! I was worn out, I couldn' help but feel helpless. I still hadn't completed the disign the day before it was due.
The physical and even more, the mental fatigue was getting to me. I was fed up with this situation and decided to submit whatever I could complete, even if I was not satisfied with it. But I couldn't keep working and fell asleep. I slept for a few hours.

The design of a monotone circle suddenly appeared in a dream.
I woke up with joy, crying "I've finally done it!!", but it was still a dream.
I finally got up and immediately went to my studio and completed a design of this "Zen" work in 20 minutes before my excitement cooled down and the clarity of the idea disappeared.

From this experience I learned the importance of relaxing, particularly when I have strong expectations of myself, and following my vision spontaneously instead of straining myself to force progress in my work to draw a good design.

This "Zen" work was introduced at the World Glass Congress 1991 Exhibition at Dallas, Texas, U.S. I was glad to hear architects, artists and producers who visited the Congress recognize that the "Zen" work is oriental as well as being original.
It gave me confidence to continue working in stained glass. This ooportunity also allowed my works to be introduced in the book, "Architectural Glass Art".

Posted by TT at 11:52 PM

May 09, 2004

My devotion to stained glass -4

The work exhibited at the Second Japan Stained Glass Grand Show in 1984.

Establishing classes greatly contributed to the spread of stained glass in Japan.

"New Glass" - I was shocked when I first saw this book.
A new wave surged into Japan from overseas at a time when old design was still regarded as best.

In those days I think many people were inspired by this book, which triggered off the opening of contemporary design in Japan.
I imagine artists gifted with sharp sensitivity were fed up with old design and jumped at new design all at once.

This phenomenon was exemplified at "the First Japan Stained glass Grand Show in 1983", which was held at the Nomura Building, a ultra-high-rise in Nishi Shinjuku, Tokyo, Japan.
Seeing this was a culture shock for me.

It is not too much to say that the new design undercut the foundation of stained glass industry in Japan.
The new wave which erupted from "New Glass" has turned into reality.
I felt a heated atmosphere at the exhibition hall which I can't express in words.
Young artists with creative minds and sharp sensitivity from all over Japan presented many works using new designs and experimental ideas.
It was a shock to me!
To be honest I felt I was left behind.
Especially I took my hat off to Mr. S for his excellent pieces.

I had never felt more keenly that I had been disadvantaged by living in Fukuoka, which is far away from the center of stained glass.
I yearned to make works as good as those ones exhibited and present my work with theirs at the following year's exhibition.
I managed to exhibit my work the following year, but I doubt whether my work was as good as other artists'.

This was the time when I could set clear goal in my stained glass work.
I can never forget the shock I experienced then!
The above is my work presented at the Grand Show in 1984.

Posted by TT at 11:47 PM

May 04, 2004

My devotion to stained glass -3

I sometimes think about the history of stained glass in Japan.
We know from books that stained glass was first introduced into Japan during the Meiji Era (19th century).
It was started by a group under Mr. Sawano in western Japan (the Kansai Area), and Mr. Michi Ogawa in the east (Tokyo).

The technique had long been kept secret inside closed workshops where artists maintained a strict apprenticeship system.
Why has stained glass become so popular among Japanese people that they could learn the necessary skills in open classes, as is done today?
To my surprise nothing has been written or said about this phenomenon.

It is certain that something dramatic, such as the collapse of the Berlin Wall, happened at some point in the Japanese stained glass world.
Am I the only person who wants to know what exactly happened?
There are thousands of people learning stained glass today, and the number of people who don't know the genesis of stained glass education is on the increase.
Am I the only one who thinks we, (stained glass artists), are responsible for discovering the truth about it and proclaiming it to others?

Here is a clue.
A wave of new stained glass began in Nagoya 30 years ago, at a time when only limited kinds of glass were available from limited sources.
People searched for ways to obtain glass more easily and finally found a way to import glass directly from the U.S. They later found it came from one individual stained grass studio.
I can easily imagine how difficult it was to get glass in those days.
This doesn't happen today and even amuses us to think about.

Such a small step led the way to establish widespread stained glass classes.
What happened 30 years ago was very significant and has greatly changed the history of stained glass in Japan.

Posted by TT at 11:16 PM

April 29, 2004

My devotion to stained glass -2

I was hungry to discover and learn more about stained glass, I wanted to know all about it.
I accepted everything I saw or heard with delight and tried to connect it to stained glass work. My working life was devoted to absorbing knowledge about stained glass.

There were failures and disappointments every day, at times it was like running into a stone wall...........
However, one day I realized that these experiences would eventually bring me a big fortune; my failures and hardships molded my future work.
Regrettably , I realized this very late and wasted a lot of energy and time because I did not understand the importance of this way of learning.
I still spend a lot of money to cover my failures. I don't know when I could stop making such a wasteful investment on myself!

I would have had learned a great deal more quickly if I had had excellent teachers.
I had to learn it on my own, which was very time consuming.
However, it was beneficial in the long run as I was able to learn by myself how to express my ideas in glass more truthfully; this created a good basis for a career in stained glass.

Stained glass work will not hold attention if it is not impressive, merely well designed.
There is no point to make such works.
I want my works to give kind and pleasant messages to people, no matter how unsophisticated and unskillful they are.
It would be wonderful if I could keep contact with people and stained glass without losing my pure and natural heart.

Posted by TT at 06:52 PM

April 19, 2004

My devotion to stained glass -1

I began working in stained glass twenty three years ago. Already 23 years have passed, still, for 23 years, time has gone by so quickly!

Looking back over my career, I realize my views, beliefs and ideas about stained glass have been subtly changing over that period.

I had to change my way of thinking depending on my circumstances. However, I can confidently say that I always looked forward with positive thinking when I was working in stained glass.

I have experienced a lot of sadness, pain and things that made me want to give up.
It would be endless if I started to mention each of my experiences .........
But, being able to work as a stained glass artist is a gift - it has given me so much joy, pleasure and happiness that I have been able to overcome sadness and hardship.

When I first started to work in stained glass, I was driven by ambtion.
I exhausted a lot of youthful energy working late into the night, biting the bullet undauntedly.
I had a severe situation.....I did not have many commissions and was extremely poor.
I was frustrated. I became blind to my own faults and behaved as if I was the only righteous person in the world and I even became a quarrelsome person.
I was an immature and unpleasant guy (I now regret it.).

In those days I depicted only images of my frustration in stained glass works.
I just wanted to express my honest feeling as much as I could.
Thus, I was able to keep my balance by expressing my feeling in works and letting my frustration out under such a severe condition.
It was not a good attitude at all.

What supported me in those days was my unfulfilled dream.
I wanted to brush up my design skill and work techniques and get an establish position in the stained glass world. I was too selfish to take care of my family. I never realized this dream would be made possible by the assistance of my family who supported me.
I thought only about myself. I feel ashamed of my egoistical behavior.

I think the distorted negative energy was the only source of my vitality in those days.

Posted by TT at 03:00 PM