~ INTRO ~
After calling Aoi and three text messages later we’d decided to meet up at the Lake Merritt area of Oakland because it’s a fairly easy landmark to locate. Originally built in 1953, the lake is described as “a focal point, it stands as the jewel of Oakland, even crowned with lights” by oaklandnet.com. Sun setting behind the lake provided a spectacular backdrop to capture some photos of Aoi’s calligraphy work. Tons of people were jogging by and we even had to ask a couple people for help to hold some of her larger work.
Following the ‘photo shoot,’ we headed towards a nearby area to escape the encroaching dark cold air. At first thought the local Starbucks appeared a solid location to conduct an interview. Closer inspection revealed it rank with chatter. Across the street, Colonial Donuts proved a more hospitable interview environment. After ogling the pastry selections we both settled on apple turnovers, with she an Earl Grey tea and I a ‘Milk Chug’ to wash it down. We sat down in the middle of the shop snacking on the goodies while discussing what calligraphy entails for her.
~ BACKGROUND ~
Moments Of Truth ~ Today is Thursday, October 18TH, 2007 and I’m here with Aoi Yamaguchi. Please describe your main mode or medium of creative expression.
Aoi Yamaguchi ~ Primarily, I do Japanese calligraphy. I’ve been doing this since I was six years old.
MOT ~ Are there specific differences for Japanese calligraphy in comparison to say Chinese or Western forms?
AY ~ The Japanese form is really unique, based on traditional culture. I use special brushes and papers. Like if I was just to draw the alphabet, it’s very simple lines, while there’s a lot of curves and three different styles of characters [in Japan], hiragana, katakana and kanji. Kanji is the most complicated one and consists of [a] bunch of strokes. It’s really hard to write, but that’s what really makes me want to do it and learn it because it’s hard. If it’s easy, I can be more creative, it takes time to learn it but we need patience to develop the skill.
Any of the three characters can be used, but we don’t use katakana that much. It’s more for foreign words, like English, to describe the sounds. The kanji has the Continue reading