Studio Kura Project Proposal
By Chloe Tomomi
My perception of the natural world changed the day I learned of the Japanese practice known as Shinrin-yoku 森林浴 (literally “forest bathing.”) I instantly fell in love with it. Considered as medicine, Shinrin-yoku is a health practice in which one travels out into the forest, free of technology, and simply sits and absorbs the atmosphere. This is thought to help alleviate depression, anxiety, and other physical symptoms such as high blood pressure, insomnia, low-energy levels, etc. Practicing this as much as I could, I noticed a profound connection to the Zen Buddhism concept, Satori. Satori refers to the return to one’s true, original state of being. Also meaning “awakening,” Satori teaches us that one should not reach for the attainment of lucidity and enlightenment, but should instead meditate and simply learn to let things go. While engaging in Shinrin-yoku, I started to see the connection between the two. I found that being in nature truly does help one to naturally let things go and return to a state of presence. Breathing in aromatic, crisp fresh air, being enveloped by ethereal, verdant light, listening to the babbling of a near by river, and feeling the soft Earth beneath one’s feet can truly heal so many ailments. I also noticed this same condition within the powerful, wise ocean. The clear, cool water seems to intentionally wash away every last drop of sorrow which is otherwise permanent. Realizing this incredible connection, I started to paint scenes representing this beautiful phenomenon in hopes of transporting others to a similar state of being. Even if only for a moment.
In my previous art projects, I veered towards nature and spirituality, and I will most likely go for something similar based on the fact that I gain my inspiration from nature. I would like to do a project based on the ideas behind Shinrin-yoku 森林浴 and Satori in the form of watercolor, acrylic, or oil paintings. I may do a series of forest paintings that work together to make one image, so the audience may feel that they are walking straight into a painted forest scene. I am also interested in painting rivers, streams, waterfalls, and ocean scenes. Playing nature sounds and diffusing essential oils (ex. Eucalyptus) in the exhibition space will give the audience a 4D experience. I may even use interesting colors such as pink or purple paint to directly communicate the impact of emotion that I wish to convey. Depending on the lighting and size of the space, I might even want to showcase paintings snaking their way across a dark room, lit up by spotlights. This way, the audience’s full attention will be essential when experiencing the art show.
Overall, when I paint, I want my audience to get transported into a calm state of being. I want to challenge my audience to bring their attention to the present moment and to truly feel the essence of being alive as a human being. I may also be able to achieve this with a minimalistic approach. I plan to walk around the forested areas near the studio in order to sketch, paint plein-air, and take reference photos to work from in the studio. I want to capture the essence of a Japanese forest and present it's sacredness in a painted form. I would also like to get to know the people in the community and hopefully build friendships. When I paint, I would like to paint not only for myself, but mostly for the community's benefit. I will be carefully planning more of this art project for the next year in order to perfect and prime it, so it may be impactful and thought-provoking by the time the art is exhibited. If there is a need for a more concrete project proposal, I will be happy to follow up with one as soon as possible. I am happy to send sketches and drafts for this idea as well.