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Personal Responses to Designing Nature: The Rinpa Aesthetic in Japanese Art

Ogata Kenzan (Japanese, 1663–1743). "Sixth Month" after Fujiwara no Teika's "Poems of Birds and Flowers of the Twelve Months," from Gleanings of Worthless Weeds (Shuiguso), 1743. Edo period (1615–1868). The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, The Harry G. C. Packard Collection of Asian Art, Gift of Harry G. C. Packard, and Purchase, Fletcher, Rogers, Harris Brisbane Dick, and Louis V. Bell Funds, Joseph Pulitzer Bequest, and The Annenberg Fund Inc. Gift, 1975 (1975.268.66)

This week, we have chosen to present our personal responses to the exhibition Designing Nature: The Rinpa Aesthetic in Japanese Art. Dan has written a poem inspired by several examples of poetry in the exhibition, and Kristen has created a collage inspired by images of cherry blossoms.


I had read Japanese poetry before our tour of the exhibition, and what struck me most about it was its simplicity. Japanese haiku, for instance, are the pinnacle of poetic restraint due to their strict limit on syllables and the fact that they can contain only three lines. I also noticed that Japanese poetry is less concerned with personal sentiment than with the subject of the poem itself, thereby allowing the subject to speak for the writer's feelings. This was my inspiration in writing my piece below. Sitting amidst the exhibition's exquisite Japanese art when I wrote it certainly aided in my creative process.

Untitled Poem

Crystal polyps encapsulate the cherry blossom tree.
Beauty held forever beneath the sun.
Every day we walk to see the sight.
Every day is a day for flowers.

As seasons pass we start to grow apart.
Your hand was once encapsulated in mine.
Now I walk alone to see the cherry blossom tree.
Now I stand forever beneath the sun.


My collage was inspired by the beauty and melancholy of the falling cherry blossoms. It focuses not on the trees but on the petals as they float through the sky—the beauty of the moment and the sadness that it only happens once each year.

Kristen. Untitled, 2012. Cut tissue on paper

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