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Monday, July 7, 2008

Robert Yellin with Japanese pottery

for the Japan Times, September 17, 2003

Karatsu and guinomi Mishima, and Bizen tokkuri

I've often been asked about my debut with Japanese pottery and how I am deeply interested in the subject. Most of the time, it was a philosophical and intuitive introduction only struck a chord in me, as well as topics associated with Zen and the present. Like most inspiring art, words often intervene, and logic usually fails to help "get it."

Yakimono Sanka - Cover; written by Robert Yellin, the Japanese language onlyIn to give you an overview of how I see it, I would like to share some excerpts from my book "Yakimono Sanka (Ode to pottery, love cups and bottles) Published in 1995 by Kogei Shuppan (see book right). This book is only available in Japanese at the time of writing. I hope I have done in English next year.

Living with Japanese pottery has opened my eyes to a world of beauty and thought. He guided my senses and the mind to an understanding of daily life as an opportunity to experience the divine in the routine motions of life. Using Japanese pottery has allowed me to appreciate the craft everyday that, when properly organized and balanced, enter the field of art and his life and personality. It has been the case for centuries in Japan and continues in the present.

There are forms of pottery in Japan that have changed little for hundreds of years. Yet there are potters living today who are not only academic copies of ancient masterpieces. They breathe in the tradition that runs an expression of the current era. These potters are parts which I tried, potters who carry on a dialogue with the masters of past centuries. In this way, pottery from the eternal beauty is born. And these pieces I can put it in my daily life, using them every day in the rituals of life - eating and drinking. Through the use and appreciation of these pieces, a simple and profound beauty has seeped into my soul.

It is the wisdom beyond the cult of tea and Japanese culture of food. Unfortunately, many Japanese have forgotten their own culture and life around machinery objects. Items not make the soul of humanity, but the activity of the mind. Items not in order to enhance the mind, but for the sole purpose of monetary gain. The founder of Japan Crafts Movement, Soetsu Yanagi, wrote in his classic book The Unknown Craftsmen:

On reflection, one must conclude that in bringing cheap and useful property for the average household, industrialization has been of service to humanity - but at the cost of heart, of warmth, friendliness and beauty. "For that I would add" and to the detriment of nature and the valuable resources of this beautiful house still fragile we all share the Earth.

If we use objects of our everyday life that move the heart and help us to transcend our daily lives and ways of thinking, May we be able to lift our spirits with a plan that will integrate the care of the land under of existence. And nothing seems to be more appropriate than using pottery, which includes clay, air, fire and water - the elements that create and give us life.

In Japan, styles, glazes, shapes and price ranges of pottery can BOGGLE mind. Attempting to retrieve all be a little stupid. On the advice of Hugh Munsterberg in the ceramic art of Japan: A Handbook for Collectors, I decided to focus on my collection of cups and bottles.

Robert Yellin sitting in his room pottery

Another factor in my decision was the limited number of places available in a typical Japanese home. The cups and bottles represented in this book can fit into a small room, and each has its own uniqueness. As we humans, each piece is unique. So my collection room is a room full of "people" preparing to go to a party or for a week's session of Zen meditation. This collection speaks to me in the silence of an ancient sage and the truth - always a connection with the flowing river of humanity. In a cup, every time meets - past, present and future - and all losers inside! The work became my teachers, instructing me on the history of Japan, zen, the cult of tea, the elusive aesthetic concepts of Wabi-sabi, the beauty and Japanese food. I think that is wandering Zen monk taneda Santoka, a great lover of sake, who said, "The truth is this new" in the ordinary "and that" there are hidden treasures in the present moment. " The use of these parts every day puts me in a position to see the magic in the present moment. The parts that I have collected over the years have nothing to do with beauty or ugliness. I am more interested in their "thusness," a quality that can speak to my heart and thus, without trying to lift my conscience to a field where I can talk with former teacher myself.

Various Bizen love guinomi (sake cups)
Various Bizen Guinomi (sake drinking glasses)

I much prefer giving the money I earn my job a ceramic artist as a large, Shapeless, multinational company which is about the exploitation of the environment in the name of profit and prestige. When I support a potter, I am also help preserve a craft that goes beyond fashion or trend of the year and, through its heritage, transcends the age in which we live. What goods can a big company which will manufacture worthy legacy? The parts that are in this book passes through my hands and those of my children or another person whose level of satisfaction is similar to mine. No matter what era coins in circulation, they still speak the heart of man and not his spirit. These texts speak of a truth beyond knowledge. Most mass-produced products companies spew annually becoming obsolete another. Most talk about anything other than greed of the mind. For this reason, I give my support to the creators of the beauty in a cup of clay.

The Japan Times: Sept. 17, 2003
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