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Passage: Waterway

Tetsunori Kawana. Japanese, 1945-

Created: 2011-2012
Materials:Straight and split Madake bamboo, annealed metal wire

Inspired by the natural cycles of life, Tetsunori Kawana emphasizes the simple beauty of his chosen material, Madake bamboo. A master of ikebana, the Japanese art of flower arranging, Kawana studied under Hiroshi Teshigahara, an internationally renowned filmmaker and former director of the Sogetsu School of Ikebana in Tokyo. Ikebana takes a holistic and spiritual approach to flower arranging, emphasizing all parts of a plant and its ephemeral nature as a living thing. The Sogetsu School, founded in 1927, expanded the definition of ikebana by encouraging personal style in individual creations while maintaining traditional principles, a philosophy that Kawana has carried through to his bamboo installations. In his arrangements, flower and bamboo, he skillfully combines one of the oldest art forms in Japan with his own contemporary designs. He is inspired by the contemporary art of Andy Goldsworthy and Richard Serra as well as by his country’s traditions.

For Project Ten Ten Ten, Kawana created Passage: Waterway, a site-specific, temporary bamboo sculpture that embraced the philosophy of impermanence. Passage stood on the lawn in front of Mint Museum Randolph from August 2011 to August 2012. Volunteers from the Young Affiliates of the Mint, Mint staff, Charlotte’s Japanese Association, and UNC Charlotte’s department of architecture helped Kawana cut and weave the bamboo over a three week period in July 2011. The sculpture was unveiled during a Community Day with a celebration of Japanese culture.

Standing 20 feet tall and 82 feet long and undulating like a winding stream, Passage: Waterway offered visitors a pathway for contemplation and sensory experience. Kawana based its design on the five traditional elements of nature: Earth, Water, Fire (the Sun), Wind, and Sky.  He intended the visitor’s five senses to interact with these five elements, saying, “Only when this happens is my work really complete.” Each encounter with Passage was unique; the sculpture began as green bamboo and gradually weathered to gray-brown as the seasons passed. After spending a year in harmony with its lush, green setting, Passage reached the end of its life cycle and was removed in August 2012, in keeping with Kawana’s wishes.

Installation funded by the Young Affiliates of the Mint; special thanks to Sterling Magnolia Apartments, Peg Sullivan, Patrick George of Heartwood Tree Service, UNITS Portable Storage, and Ray Peavy of The Big Bamboo Company. © Tetsunori Kawana, 2011. Image © 2011 Mitchell Kearney