On September 23, the exhibition “Whispers of the Infinite” by Keiji Shinohara had its opening in the von Auersperg Art Gallery. Marking the first art exhibition this school year, the gallery invited the Deerfield community to catch a glimpse of the 18 monotypes and 8 woodcuts as well as talk with the artist.
Keiji Shinohara was born and raised in Osaka, Japan. After he stopped pursuing Physics in college, he earned an apprenticeship for 10 years in Ukiyo-e, a traditional Japanese woodblock printing style. His master, Keiichiro Uesugi, a renowned printmaker, guided him until 1985 when he became a Master Printmaker himself and moved to the United States. For 22 years, he has been teaching at Wesleyan University in Middletown, Connecticut.
His unique artworks combine Ukiyo-e with techniques from contemporary western printmaking to convey his feelings and emotions. Both students who have and haven’t joined the art program shared positive reactions during the opening. Fall art exemption students, in particular, were given a chance to meet Mr. Shinohara and discuss his background and artwork.
Mr. Shinohara started the discussion by expressing, “When I first came to Deerfield, my first thought was: Why don’t they have printmaker?”
He carried on to tell the history of printmaking and how he became passionate about it.
“Woodcutting is a one time chance,” Mr Shinohara explained about his methods, “it takes about 3 months and has a 9-step process, so you can get bored of it. That’s why there’s so many monotypes [in the gallery]. They’re easy to make so it took me a month and a half to make all 18.”
Beaubien described, “His technique demonstrates his incredible patience and determination since printmaking can often be a bit unpredictable- especially with his monotypes.”
In regards to his technique, Natsumi Shindo ‘20 stated, “In Japan, students learn how to print using Ukiyo-e style, so I do know how difficult it is to actually carve and print all the colors with accuracy!”
Mr. Shinohara gains his sources of inspirations from everyday life and recalls them from his memory. He commented, “Recently I’ve been driving back and forth on the [Interstate] 91, and I see so many things that might be on my next piece!”
Emphasizing on how he translates his feelings of a memory to an abstract picture, Mr. Shinohara explained, “When I start a piece I ask myself: What elements do I need to describe what I’m feeling.”
As for his technique with color he described, “I start drawing an image in black and white before I start seperating the color. I don’t know what specific color an area will be, but I know that a certain area won’t be the same as another. The colors then come to be like a chain reaction.”
He gave the art students advice when he said, “I don’t plan anything from the beginning, so you don’t have to know everything when you start.”
Coming from Japan, Shindo shared her thoughts on the significance of this exhibition by saying, “It would be a great opportunity to introduce the community to a completely new and unique style of art and a chance for students to get a glimpse of Japanese art and its history.”
The Visual Arts Teachers encourage everyone to visit the exhibition.