SUMI and SHU
I began "SUMI and SHU" series in 2000 from my fascination with the inks and their intricate ties to history, including shamanic rituals around the world. The balance of these two colors showcase the unique Japanese aesthetics and to me illustrate a yin and yang balance of stillness and movement.
SUMI is the Japanese word for black ink.
SUMI ink sticks are made mainly of soot and animal glue, sometimes with incense or medicinal scents added.
To make ink from the stick, I continuously grind these against an ink stone, one that is part of my history. This time consuming but meditative process is essential component as if the application has personal ceremonial meaning to it. A small quantity of water is added to produce a dark liquid, which is then applied with an ink brush.
SHU is the Japanese word for cinnabar ink. The pigment of the ink comes from cinnabar - a sulfide mineral.
SHU is mainly used for calligraphy and in correction mark practices used by teachers.
In order to make SUMI and SHU my own, I have deviated from their conventional and traditional uses, which has now become signature to my work. When I share SUMI and SHU, viewers often connect with their own culture and heritage to my forms. The series has evolved beyond my personal Japanese aesthetic interests to broader intuitive iconography in my exploration of universal translation in these primal color combinations.
In my editions, I work closely with a master printer to reproduce my original paintings and the ink most faithful color to SHU.