Zen and the Art of Woodworking
My goal is to combine my interests in Daoism, Buddhism, meditation and calligraphy with Zen aesthetic principles to create unique wood art pieces. Zen art places a premium on naturalness and spontaneity. The idea is to capture the essence of an object, to highlight the distinctiveness of each piece of wood and to incorporate its singularity into a design that is simple and direct, oftentimes surprising and powerful, and yet elegant and refined in its own way. While I utilize a variety of techniques – turning, carving, inlay, pyrography, and airbrushing – the idea is not to celebrate technical mastery for its own sake. Rather, technique serves the overarching aesthetic principle of shibumi.
Shibumi (渋味), understood aesthetically, is captured in such creatively fecund paradoxes as elegant simplicity, effortless effectiveness, and beautiful imperfection. Although the process that leads to the final outcome may be complex and often reflects design challenges encountered along the way, none of the complexity or struggle should be felt in the end. My favorite pieces are those where it is hard to imagine any other outcome, when there is an immediate and intuitive sense that this is right, comfortable, the way it should be – even if it is not particularly useful or beautiful and challenges our aesthetic sensibilities – shibumi after all literally means “bitter tasting!”
I hope others will enjoy the pieces as much as I enjoyed making them, and that the pieces will bring them a bit of peace and tranquility in what can at times be a hectic and chaotic modern life.