I have been thinking about natural disasters, particularly about the power of water. I was in the Osaka area when the Great East Japan Earthquake happened in March, 2011. Even though floods have been happening all over the US and the world lately, the one in Japan made a huge impact in my life. The images of the tsunami sweeping whole cities away at first looked like well-made movie footage. All of the houses, buildings, cars and trees were like toys. It’s hard to comprehend that the people who lost family members, houses, and all of their belongings are facing so many problems and so much sadness. I admire the workers who sacrificed themselves to clean up the mess at the nuclear plant.
As an artist it is compelling to make art using the wishes I collected at a memorial ceremony at the university where I work that took place one month after the earthquake.
After the Flood consists of two fabric squares. The left side is a light green quilt like piece using several wishes from the event; the felted lines represent the cracks on the country and the people’s heart. The right side is a screen-printed map of Tohoku (Iwate, Miyagi, Fukushima prefectures), and represents the evidence of how many earthquakes were happening within a four-day period. Although not wholly accurate, the epicenter and the dots give us some idea of the frequency and aftermath of the quakes.
I created another piece called Lost / Found using toys and paper pulp. The toys represent our everyday life and the miniature size of our real life. All of those things are piled up after the earthquake/tsunami with mud. The abaca paper is made and applied painstakingly: hand-dyed with madder and logwood and formed by hand as paper. I rewrote the wishes I selected from the 188 wishes on the special papers in black ink. I destroyed the texts and all the labor I spent on the handmade paper by spraying the pulp because all the valuable things get ruined instantly through natural disasters. I believe in the power of growth that will restore the place that got destroyed.
I hope that we will find what is really important by losing it.
Omamori III: Forgotten is a large handmade paper relief. It is not a cast; instead, discarded objects are covered with hand dyed paper pulp. I have been thinking about the many important things and events that have been forgotten. After Japan’s earthquake/tsunami in spring of 2011, I have been concerned about the effects of radiation. Even though we learned that nuclear radiation makes a huge disaster we have forgotten, more or less. The dark dots represent the black rain contaminated by radiation after the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. In addition, I have great concerns that many of the old techniques of art-making have been disappearing. I imbedded several objects that have been discarded or forgotten into the omamori form wishing that people will think of them more. The back strap loom, lace-making bobbins, and shuttles, one side of the sandals etc. are covered by the pulp.
All photos on this page: David Scherrer