When I was in Japan a few years ago, we took a day trip up to Nikko, a town in the mountains north of Tokyo. It was this trip that inspired my very first block prints: a series of water patterns inspired by the symbolism found in Japanese folk art.
This little town nestled in the clouds had an otherworldly quality. In fact, the Japanese have a saying, “Never say ‘kekkou’ until you’ve seen Nikko.” The word ‘kekkou’ means ‘beautiful,’ ‘magnificent,’ or ‘I am satisfied.’
The area is well known for the beautiful Lake Chuzenji nestled in the mountains, and the nearby Kegon Falls waterfall. The abundant plant life is lush and green, swollen from its plentiful watering. Even the air is heavy with mist, and you can walk through the dense clouds that sit at street level. Observing this, I understood the spiritual quality the Japanese must have found in water and in nature.
So I decided to make these prints in honor of this little town called Nikko. Each is a representation of water so often found in Japanese art. When I look at them, I remember this town, and the many fascinating qualities of water: Water is peaceful and calm, but it can also be powerful and angry. Water is flexible, taking the shape of its container, yet it is a force powerful enough to carve away stone.
These were my very first prints. They will always hold a special place in my heart as they remind me of my trip to Nikko!