"Wabi sabi" is my favorite artistic concept. It's a silly sounding word, but in fact "wabi sabi" is a rather serious aethestic that translates from Japanese as something like "withered nature."Wabi sabi refers to the beauty of impermanence and the manifestation of natural effects beyond our control. Old weathered wood doors and exposed wood beams. Simple clay tea cups. Celebrating the nature of things rather than trying to mask their imperfections. The idea of wabi sabi was supposedly invented by a Japanese tea-master some 700 years ago, in reaction to the rococo-like over-ornamentation of his time. My favorite part of the story is that this tea-master built his tea ceremony hut with a low door, so that all must bow to enter, even if they be the emperor - it's not about being humble in front of each other, but about being humble before the universe. For me, wabi sabi is a celebration of the irrepressible individuality of things. Some say that wabi sabi is the artistic face of Zen Buddhism.
Recently, we started cutting our new puzzle Bunny Blossoms by the artist-pair Kozyndan (a small part of which is shown below. When she saw the printed image, Maria called me a bit nervous "Maya, I don't know what's up, but you can see dirt on the print, and the wood grain they painted on is showing through." "Yes!" I said enthusiastically, "They digitally faked that dirt and wood grain so well you thought it was real! Isn't that great?" Maria wasn't so sure. But to me, Bunny Blossoms is a masterpiece of post-modern wabi-sabi, a digital re-creation of a wood block print from a few hundred years ago that didn't exist, and couldn't have existed. The false aging shows a post-modern respect for wood block art as we know it today - not clean and pristine, but weathered. The bunnies in the image are fresh and being born, the flip side of aging, when nature first imprints our individuality. They look a little anxious, as any body entering this crazy world might feel. - Maya