“We are the landscape of all we have seen.” -Isamu Noguchi
Holly and I have just returned from a marvelous visit to Portland, OR, where we led a lively workshop at the First Unitarian Church, gave a well-attended reading at St. John’s Booksellers, and returned to the church the next day for a casual reading/reception. It’s so wonderful to meet our readers!
In between we had the chance to visit Portland’s world-class Japanese Garden, with my old friends Pat and Nancy. I’ve always loved Japanese gardens, and the way they use the space in-between plantings as much as the plantings themselves. As you stroll in a garden like this, you notice the way a certain maple is angled toward the sky, and how the light expands within its leaves. The gardeners are aware of all the perspectives by which something can be viewed—and, working with natural forces, they make each aspect beautiful.
We happened to be at the garden during an exhibition by acclaimed design artist Isamu Noguchi; his sculptures dotted the rock garden, while inside the hall we admired his elegant furniture and lamps. Large woven paper banners hung from the ceiling, printed with some of the artist’s most famous quotes. Holly and I both stopped at one that told us: “Everything is sculpture… Any material, any idea without hindrance born into space, I consider sculpture.”
That’s it, we both said, nodding in agreement. That’s what art is all about. Allowing our ideas, our memories, our stories to emerge without hindrance into the world.
I know I create all kinds of hindrances that make the artistic process difficult; art, itself, does not concern itself with such things. What kind of hindrances keep you from your writing? How can we lift them gently away, at least for a little while?
Perhaps you’d like to write this week about a garden you love, or a garden from your past, or your ideal garden, one that emerges “without hindrance” to offer beauty with no strings attached.
Wishing you mid-summer peace,