Experience - Lunchtime Lecture on Japanese Aesthetics

On Wednesday, we had a lunchtime lecture with Amanda Dalla Villa Adams of the VMFA. Adams spoke about Japanese Aesthetics. It was really interesting to hear a deeper explanation of the Japanese aesthetics than what we have done in art class. She was very knowledgable! In relation to a question asked in my sketchbook earlier about if Western art is inherently different than Eastern art both now and in the past, I can now see how the Eastern and Western aesthetics vary. It was also good to have a refresher on what the cross-cultural exchange between the US, or rest of the West, and Japan. I particularly enjoyed seeing the Mary Cassatt piece which was so obviously inspired by the Japanese aesthetic.

Mary Cassatt (1844–1946).  The Letter , 1890–91. Drypoint and aquatint on cream laid paper, 34.4 x 21.1 cm. S.P. Avery Collection, Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Division of Art, Prints and Photographs, The New York Public Library, Astor, Lenox and Tilden Foundations  Image via  The Guggenheim

Mary Cassatt (1844–1946). The Letter, 1890–91. Drypoint and aquatint on cream laid paper, 34.4 x 21.1 cm. S.P. Avery Collection, Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Division of Art, Prints and Photographs, The New York Public Library, Astor, Lenox and Tilden Foundations

Image via The Guggenheim

Mostly, all I knew about going into the lecture was about the Wabi Sabi aesthetic and the Kintsugi bowls (as seen below.) I had not previously known that the Wabi and the Sabi could be broken down into two separate ideas. I learned that the Wabi particularly refers to things such as simplicity, imperfection, irregularity, and starkness. The Sabi refers to “mono no aware.” The Wabi aesthetic and principle is something which I think I really need to bring into my work. I am sometimes too focused on the art needing to be perfect, and do not lean into the process or allow for mistakes that turn into something cool.

Image via  The Book of Life