sensei (2021)

Artist’s statement: Hideo Mabuchi

w 19″ x d 17″ x h 35″
wood-fired reduction-cooled stoneware; rope; wood

The forms of the two ceramic vessels in this installation are my 3D, thrown-and-altered takes on ancient “seal-script” (蝌蚪文字) versions of the Chinese characters (kanji) used in Japanese to write the word sensei (teacher) 先生:

In the above image, in each row, the modern form of the character is to the left of the arrow and a corresponding seal-script form is to the right of the arrow. Perhaps you’ll agree that the seal-script forms are just asking to be made into pots?

My vessels are suspended within cubic wooden frames. The frames and their vertical arrangement are meant to suggest a three-dimensional version of the square grids in which students practice writing well-spaced and proportioned sequences of Chinese/Japanese characters (genkouyoushi, 原稿用紙). My Japanese handwriting is terrible; the vessels hang off-center and somewhat askew. The ends of the ropes used in this framing/suspension are tied with finishing knots and the ends left to dangle in a way that serendipitously recalls the zig-zag paper streamers (shide, 紙垂) that one often sees adorning Shinto shrines.

link to full size image

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