Authenticity of Japanese art expressed

Samantha Westrope takes a moment to admire the art of instructor Satoko Motouji’s sabbatical Exhibition in the LCC main Art Gallery in Building 11 on Wednesday, Feb. 25.

Samantha Westrope takes a moment to admire the art of instructor Satoko Motouji’s sabbatical Exhibition in the LCC main Art Gallery in Building 11 on Wednesday, Feb. 25.
Photo: August Frank

Brandon Taylor

Lane art instructor Satoko Motouji is displaying a personal piece in her art exhibit “Process, Continued” in Lane’s main art gallery. The piece consists of dried white plants hanging over woven material that fades from black to white. The fade represents her mother’s fading memory due to her affliction with Alzheimer’s. Motouji made the majority of the piece with her mother who constructed most of the weave.

The exhibit has been four years in the making, starting with the calligraphy as a kind of new year’s resolution. She had been meaning to relearn calligraphy for some time and eventually found an instructor in Portland. However, due to Motouji’s busy schedule, the instructor was reluctant to teach her. Eventually she was able to convince her instructor and began relearning calligraphy.

To keep her in touch with traditional Japanese art, Motouji uses a number of Japanese tools. She uses handmade paper, an ink-stone, pine ink and brush signifying the ‘four treasures of the study,’ which is an expression used in Asian calligraphy traditions denoting the use of these particular tools. In keeping with the authentic expression in her work, she buys many of the materials directly from Japan.

The exhibit is not just a static piece. Motouji is providing viewers with a real time experience into the process by practicing calligraphy every Monday afternoon in the gallery.

Motouji was born in Kyoto, Japan and moved to the United States to study at the University of Oregon in 1985. While working in a high school extension program in 1986 with Lane Community College, she was hired as a part-time instructor. Since then she has taught a multitude of art classes at Lane, including Introduction to Drawing, Intermediate Drawing and Watercolor.

“Teaching is wonderful thing, it’s about witnessing a student’s growth,” Motouji said.

The exhibit is both an art display and a lesson in art. Motouji hopes to communicate the process of making art in addition to the finished result to viewers of the exhibit, hence the title “Process, Continued.”

Process, being a major theme and source of inspiration for Motouji, is greatly illustrated by a series of calligraphy papers transcribing a Buddhist Sutra. She marked every mistake she made in order to express her own growth. She wants to show students how much it takes to get from point A to point B.

“Art can disappear, but the process of art making will remain,” Motouji said, stating that the process of making art is more about introspection. Buddhism is also featured in a set of enso drawings. Enso is a circle representing mu, the void, a common element in Zen Buddhism.

With Buddhism being an important factor in her life, Motouji feels the need to balance digital and analogue experiences. She said that she’s grateful for being born in an analogue age and experiencing the digital age. Balancing the mind and body helps to maintain a tactile experience of the world.

Motouji plans to reduce her teaching hours at Lane because she feels it is time to do something new. She intends to focus more on her art and hopes to take her exhibition to other educational and nonprofit organizations.

“Process Continued” opened in the Lane Art Gallery in Building 11 on Feb. 17 and continues through Mar. 12. The artist will be present in the gallery practicing calligraphy every Monday from 1:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m.