Urushi, Lacquer Arts
This art form stems from the small amount of tree sap that comes from the urushi tree. This valuable liquid, once hardened, is transformed into the lacquer that is resistant to both heat and acid, protecting against decay and impact. Since antiquity this material has been used as both dishware and furniture. Indeed, it is said to have been carefully used for more than 5,000 years. Today lacquer is also used in the creation of jewelry, decorative objects and interior fittings for architecture. Lacquer’s expressive qualities are all the further expanded when used in combination with other different materials. Students learn the basic traditions that elicit the fascinating qualities of lacquer to the greatest degree possible, all the while challenging themselves in the contemporary forms of lacquer art expression. From the second year onwards, students turn their attention to society as they make research trips and visit lacquer production areas, even going out into the field to plant urushi trees. In this way, students actively search out the fascinating aspects of lacquer arts, the craft that can be considered Japan’s representative decorative art, so beloved and admired through the ages.
Since antiquity, people have formed metal into various shapes. Whether jewelry or household goods, weaponry, furniture, large-scale monuments, or for interior or exterior use, all of these forms reflect the detailed talents of artisans. Today, with our great advances in scientific technology, there is an even wider range of potential in expressive materials. The metal arts course focuses on training students in the basic techniques of sculpting, forging and casting metal in order to transform metal materials into an array of shapes and forms. To this basis is added skill in contemporary techniques, allowing individual students to refine their own sensibilities as they elicit the specific fascination of metal arts. It is by no means easy to transform hard metal into one’s imagined shape or form. Therefore, students learn a wide variety of techniques, thereby clarifying their own self-awareness. Through an enlivening of their own individual sensibilities, students in this course can give flight to new fascination in the metal arts.
What do we think of when we hear the work ceramics? One might imagine teacups for enjoying tea, dishes heaped with food for a great meal, vases filled with beautifully arranged flowers, or even tiles and washbasins made of ceramics. A quick survey of our surroundings shows that ceramics in various forms are all around us. And in Japan, with its advanced tea ceremony culture, the world of ceramics is even broader. In the Ceramics course, focus turns to the materials, with students researching and creating all manner of ceramic works, from small-scale dishes to monumental ceramic walls and environmental structures. The major theme of the course is “how to develop ceramics as a material.” The studios are fully equipped, including a walk-in kiln. The fostering of a creative spirit begins with the kneading of clay, and then moves to formation on the potter’s wheel, cutting the work off the wheel, painting it or applying glaze, and then firing the work. Each step in this process is carefully studied. Searching the myriad “forms” born from clay, students will seek to capture the hearts of those all around.