S. O. S. PROJECT (SAKURA 'O SUKUU)
S. O. S. PROJECT (SAVING Of SAKURA) The New Life Of SAKURA (Cherrywood) Reincarnated as SuiGeneris FUNCTIONAL SCULPTURE
Copyright © 2019 GalaxiStudio/Gregory Smith
I am self-taught and consider myself to always be an emerging artist; my ♥ is my art and my art is my ♥; who in all sincerity, the following best fits the description of my education. I studied at the University of Serendipity, the College of Natural Progression, majoring in the field of trial without error, whatever transpires is part of the process. The occurrence of trial and error is a valid tool of experience, however my interpretation morphs into my philosophy of “trial without error”, the so-called error part is actually an advantage, a door to possibilities that beckon to be explored, keeping it fresh and avoiding could be stagnation or the constraints of you must follow the blueprints. That is precisely why my blueprints remain in pencil or chalk or in my head until the project is completed, then it is recorded in “wood”.
My endeavor is to establish and bring attention and exposure and appreciation to a relatively new genre in the field of art that has not been deservedly considered and has been wholly remiss regarding recognition and appreciation as an art form: “Functional Sculpture”. My passion is to create and craft works of art that have as a major component, utility and functionality; my heart is my art and my art is creating aesthetically pleasing and simultaneously useful works of art. This form deserves a place and fits within the parameters and criteria that enable a functional work to be recognized and appreciated as the artwork that it is.
I have had about 28 exhibitions of my work almost exclusively on the island of Shikoku, Japan from 1997- 2003. I have a studio and material storage space there. I also had an exhibition/demonstration in 2004 with the De Young Museum at the Palace of the Legion of Honor and a couple of my pieces were part of group shows at the Luggage Store Gallery in San Francisco in 2004 and 2011 and at Art Pad San Francisco in 2012.
The wood and other natural materials I use in the process of creating sculptural works d’art are distinctly Japanese materials, all from Japan or requisitioned there. My studio is in Japan.
I create multi-media works d’art that are for the most part comprised of materials from bushes or vines or trees. Re: trees, mainly cherry wood and for the most part the natural growth Yamazakura (mountain cherry) variety, which is very rare and scarce and sacred in Japan. My works are inspired by my appreciation for nature. Most if not all my works are a collaboration where my hands & sensibilities are the tools the wood needs to become reinvigorated, renewed, even reincarnated into what it would like to be in this new version of life. Usually I get a feeling when I see a piece of wood, an image pops into my consciousness as if I’m receiving a message from the wood directing me to envision what should be created using this piece of wood. I’m in tune with what shapes, configuration and sizes fit best for a particular purpose. Functional yet aesthetically pleasing and a utilitarian work of art that will last with prolonged use.
I began working with cherry wood mainly due to opportunity and inspired by where I lived, which was an “old”, traditional Japanese farm dwelling. There were items I needed for my dwelling and I could’ve just purchased them but could not find anything suitable (besides antiques) that would fit with the character, architecture or sensibility of the house I lived in … so began my journey to create functional art. My intent was and still is to create beautiful sculptural pieces that all have as an underlying aspect; utility, it must be useful and appreciated in more ways than one. It must appeal to a variety of senses and of equal importance, must be useful. The next chapter of this journey was creating illuminated sculptural pieces to enhance and add spice and compliment the textiles of a master Japanese weaver’s exhibitions of her works. That’s when I realized creating functional sculptural works d’art was my passion…
ALL WOOD MATERIALS are FROM JAPAN: sown, grown, found and saved with a new purpose. All wood material was acquired in an environmentally conscious manner. The cherry wood was for the most part saved, reclaimed, repurposed and revitalized, if you will, reincarnated and given a new life. I reclaimed some wood from the forest which was lying around waiting to rot or in most cases; I saved the wood from the fire pit from being burned by construction cos. that unfortunately cut trees in the course of a road related project. The construction cos. burn all cut wood (trees) that are unfit to salvage for plank board, which must have at least a 2 meter long straight section, which exotic woods (i.e. cherry and various types of elm) usually don’t have. The exotic wood trees especially cherry wood of the Yamazakura (mountain cherry) variety (very rare and scarce), which is the fundamental basis for my art and my trademark , usually have an abundance of curves which is perfect for what I seek; a more natural, organic shape with Curves, Curves, and more Curves ! ! ! I was fortunate to be in the right place at the right time to save these trees from going to waste. I do not condone or believe in cutting down the lungs of the earth just to make a work of art. There is ample material that can be salvaged or reclaimed or recycled or saved in lieu of purposefully cutting trees…and I utilize all of the wood, including but not limited to the pieces and fragments left over when sculpting and even the sawdust for smoking meat, fish etc. I attribute this innate sense of using everything, not wasting anything that is procured from and provided by nature to my Native American roots…earth friendly and environmentally conscious …
Recently I invented and developed a method (it was purely serendipitous, serendipity at its finest…) that is extremely time consuming and labor intensive, however the result is well worth the time spent. I discovered and pioneered how to effectively reconfigure the cells of Kouzou (mulberry bush) that in turn greatly increases the translucence, moreover renders the material semi-transparent without jeopardizing the strength or durability and produces the appearance of something other than what it actually is and appears to become electrified, iridescent without the rainbow colors. All trees or bushes are not suitable for this purpose. And the form in which I have manipulated and rendered this material is specific, peculiar and unique to my works only. Coincidentally this material is the same material; in its raw state; that is used in making traditional Japanese handmade paper! I plan to explore this special material in depth to realize the maximum potential it provides in being incorporated into my works and in conjunction and juxtaposition with another similar material produces an otherworldly effect, subtle yet profound, quiet and simple and minimal, yet sublime. It has amazing qualities that are crying out to be exposed and experienced by everyone !
My rendering of Kouzou and in conjunction with the use of Yamazakura is “Sui Generis” and is exclusive to my works only, anywhere.