Monday, October 8, 2012

Wabi + Sabi = Perfect Imperfection

As time goes by, I find myself coming to appreciate the beauty of imperfection- a concept the Japanese call "wabi sabi."  The aesthetic of wabi sabi encompasses so much more than this; I can't explain it in words, but I think that maybe I'm learning to see it.

Words exist because of meaning.  Once you've got the meaning, you can forget the words. ~Chuang Tse


 Wabi sabi acknowledges three things: "nothing is perfect, nothing lasts, and nothing is finished."  ~Richard R. Powell 




 Wabi-sabi suggests that beauty is a dynamic event that occurs between you and something else. Beauty can spontaneously occur at any moment given the proper circumstances, context, or point of view. Beauty is thus an altered state of consciousness, an extraordinary moment of poetry and grace. ― Leonard Koren, Wabi-Sabi: For Artists, Designers, Poets & Philosophers 




wabi ... simple and quiet, austere refinement




  Nothing to do with grandeur or symmetry.  ~ Wabi Sabi:The Japanese Art of Impermanence by Andrew Juniper




 The moon’s setting, a crow caws, the sky is filled with frost
Maples by the river, fishermen’s lights, the traveler faces a sad sleep
Outside the City of Suchow, from the Cold Mountain Temple
The sound of the midnight bell reaches the traveler’s boat               ~Cheung Chi






 Pared down to its barest essence, wabi-sabi is the Japanese art of finding beauty in imperfection and profundity in nature, of accepting the natural cycle of growth, decay, and death. It's simple, slow, and uncluttered-and it reveres authenticity above all.  ~Noble Harbor.com




wabi is ...tranquil simplicity;
austere elegance;
unpolished, imperfect, or irregular beauty...


...rusticity;
 things in their simplest, most austere, and natural state;
a serene, transcendental state of mind...             

 


sabi is... the beauty that treasures the passage of time, and with it the lonely sense of impermanence it evokes;
the patina that age bestows...
which is true to the natural cycle of birth and death...   

 ~from Wabi Sabi: The Art of Everyday Life by Diane Durston




"Wabi sabi" was a phrase conceptualized by the Japanese poet Basho, who was also known for writing haiku.
if I took it in hand,
it would melt in my hot tears—
heavy autumn frost




Be content with what you have, rejoice in the way things are. When you realize there is nothing lacking, the whole world belongs to you.    ~Lao Tse






Only in quiet waters do things mirror themselves undistorted. Only in a quiet mind is adequate perception of the world.   ~ Hans Margolius




On a completely different topic, I was excited and honored to be asked by artist/blogger Nanci Hersh to do a guest post as part of her "The Artist as Collector" series. Please check it out and see which piece from my own collection I chose to feature.  Nanci's blog, On and Off the Walls, is well worth reading any time, as she is an accomplished writer and artist with lots of inspiring ideas.Thanks, Nanci!



22 comments:

  1. Great post, Sharmon... I, too, love the Wabi Sabi aesthetic. Wonderful photos to illustrate this.

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    1. Thank you, Valerianna. I'm wondering if the wabi-sabi aesthetic seems more interesting to me because I'm getting old? No, that can't be it, right?

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  2. I am very tired but I needed to thank you for such a beautiful post tonight. I am sending you blessings. Peace, Mary Helen Fernandez Stewart

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    1. Mary Helen, I'm so glad you enjoyed the post. I'm sending blessings right back to you; I wish you peace.

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  3. This is true Beauty. the beauty of time. absolutely gorgeous photographs.

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    1. Hi Gwen. I guess that's part of wabi-sabi- accepting that beauty changes with the passage of time, as well as our perception of it. thank you.

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  4. Sharmon, you nailed it down in this post, the best one I have seen on the subject, congrats... bellissimo...

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    1. Cat, I so appreciate the compliment. This post was really my attempt to understand why I was so drawn to things like this; I was learning about wabi-sabi as I worked on it.

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  5. Lovely post Sharmon. I've been contemplating getting the book for months. Gorgeous photos especially the weathered clothes pegs.

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    1. Robyn, thanks for the comment; the clothespins are my favorite of these photos, I think. Reminds me of watching my grandmother hang laundry, when I was very little...

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  6. oh what a beautiful post Sharmon, love all your photographs & agree with Robyn of Art Propelled, those pegs speak volumes of stillness & peace!!

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    1. Thanks, Mo. It's rather haunting, the sight of those clothespins with the vines climbing around them. Makes me feel I'm looking into the past...

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  7. Lovely - and congrats on the guest blog go you! yea!

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    1. Deb, it's always great to hear from you; thanks for the encouragement!

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  8. Wow! A beautiful post on Wabi Sabi. I particularly enjoy the repetitious pattern, texture, palette and verdigris of the disc plough.
    Steven

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    1. Thanks, Steven; I hope you'll stop by again soon.

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  9. I see the stories here, in every grain of weathered wood, in the softened edges, in the grays and blues. What a beautiful post. thank you. roxanne

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    1. I'm glad you see it as I do... time adds a unique beauty that I'm learning to appreciate more and more... Maybe I just see it better now that I'm older- haha!

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  10. Great to see your photographs Sharmon... lots of wonderful material indeed!
    Hope all is good in your world!
    best,
    Sophie

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    1. Thanks, Sophie! I'm doing fine; just not much time for making art (or anything else) since school started. I haven't had time to comment, but I've been looking at your blog, and it seems your residency and exhibit went very well- congratulations!
      xo Sharmon

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  11. What a wonderful post on wabi sabi.. I love all the quotes and poetry you used to explain the concept.. and your images are beautiful.

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    1. Thank you; Donna. I appreciate the compliment- I feel you know much more about it than I do. Wabi sabi is a beautiful concept.

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