1999 Artists

Robert Martin, Composer

April-October 1999
Japanese music and Japanese composers have long enamored Robert Martin, recipient of the 1976 Charles Ives award and a 1980 Fulbright grant to study music in Vienna. He observed and listened to various traditional musical genres and forms-the noh theater, the traditional and contemporary music of the “koto”, “shamisen” and “shakuhachi”, folk music and the sounds and music found in Japan’s traditional temples. While spending time in Tokyo and Kyoto, Robert traveled around the countryside, seeking out and listening to as many Japanese composers and musicians as possible.

Juliet Kono Lee, Writer

May-November 1999

Juliet Lee came to Japan to do research for a novel in progress, entitled Anshu: Dark Sorrow. This story’s main character is Himiko, a Japanese American woman stranded in Japan during WW II and survivor of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima (hibakusha). The story, while describing the city’s devastation, also addresses the isolation and stigma experienced by the survivors. Juliet visited some of the sites relevant to her work–the memorial in Hiroshima and Nagasaki; the museums, gravesites and monuments dedicated to the bomb victims. Knowledge of the disaster, the descriptions of the horror, terror and sorrow worked to enhance the story’s narrative, as case studies gleaned from various libraries and other source materials.

Jeanne Larsen, Writer

June-December, 1999

Novelist, essayist and poet Jeanne Larsen came to Japan to study and observe Japanese religious art and practices at various pilgrimage sites around the country. She is interested in places where the aesthetic and “sacredness” of the site itself becomes the goal of the pilgrimage, such as various religious-affiliated institutions as the Miho Museum and the Oomoto Foundation. She intends to make “literary pilgrimages” to sites associated with such writers as Murasaki Shikibu, Matsuo Basho and Lafcadio Hearn. From these experiential peregrinations, she was hoping to write a book; a kind of literary memoir of people and places that will help other Americans to know more about the rich traditions of Japan and how they extend into the modern nation.

John J. Farrell, Puppet Theater

October-April 2000

In early 1980s, in the middle of a law school exam, John realized he wanted to make his life as a poet and sculptor. He walked out of the exam and, together with his wife Carol, co-founded the Figures of Speech Theater. The theater presents performances emphasizing the visual metaphor, myth and transformation through puppetry and live actors. The interaction of their puppets and actors, juxtaposed with shadow imagery and masked dance, challenges everyday conceptions of reality and enriches our notions of possibilities. John and Carol studied with a traditional puppet carver in Fukushima, then moved to Osaka to observe first-hand the performance practices of the National Bunraku Theater. They also visited other theaters, both puppet and conventional, as well as attend performances of “butoh”, “noh”, “kabuki” and experience the cultural milieu of Japan.

Kim Teru Yasuda, Installation Artist

January -July 2000

Her large-scale public art works, Kim Yasuda, a Japanese-Hawaiian raised by Japanese American parents, thinks a lot about the relationship between the inside and the outside; an element she considers much evident in Japanese architecture and landscape design. Her recent sculptural pieces have attempted to find ways to “domesticate” the natural landscape and, conversely, elevate the domestic to the monumental scale of nature. During her stay in Japan, Kim proposed a visual study of the spatial paradigms of Japanese landscape and architectural space. She was especially interested in the construction of space as it denotes public order, both sacred and secular.

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