More About the Fellows: Ephemera, Documentation, and Other Notes from the Fellowship Year

Patrick Dougherty (fellow 1992), sculptor

Holy Rope (1992)
bamboo and reeds (7.6m x 3m)
Chiba, Japan, Riniyo-in Temple

One of three site works created by the artist during his residency in Japan. (photo by Tadahisa Sakurai)

recent work

[T]he fellow grants recipients I met, along with myself, strove to immerse ourselves in Japanese society headfirst, keeping an open mind and prepared for almost anything. We were not disappointed.
-- Final Report, Craig McTurk (Fellow 1997), filmmaker

The residency exceeded all expectations I had about going to Japan, and obliterated all trepidation that I had before leaving the States to go there.
--Final Report, Wendy Maruyama, (Fellow 1995), sculptor/furniture maker

Sha Sha Higby (fellow 1995), costume and performance artist

Artist wearing her sculpture.

Higby describes her artwork: "I approach dance through the medium of sculpture…. With these 'costume sculptures', I want to show how we are the elegant complexity of the atmospheres about us." (photo by Albert Hollander)

Leni Schwendinger (fellow 1991), light designer

Gravel, Kyoto

Leni Schwendinger's course of study in Japan included an in-depth survey, interviews, and photography project relating to the kare sansui, or dry landscape gardens. She visited innumerable temple gardens - Zen Buddhist, Jo-do Buddhist, and Shinto - and then branched out to explore earth and gravel mounds in temporal forms - on construction sites, dojo floors and other found settings. The film used was a black and white slide film, sponsored in part by Polaroid. A number of the resulting photographs reside in the Polaroid collection.

I am struck by the difference between Japan-as-imagined and Japan-as-experienced, and by the degree to which our actual activities in Japan departed from the planned itinerary. I hope and imagine that such veering from plan is expected, a reflection of the wisdom of the fellowship, whose latitude was essential to the program's success for us.
--Final Report, John Farrell (Fellow 1999), puppet theater

It is a key experience in one's life to get a taste, although diluted, of how minority groups in the U.S. and elsewhere are routinely given marginal status in the eyes of the majority culture.
-- Final Report, Craig McTurk (Fellow 1997), filmmaker

Jeanne Wakatsuki Houston (fellow 1991), writer

Houston's first book, Farewell to Manzanar is the autobiographical account of her childhood experiences of being incarcerated along with her family in Manzanar concentration camp (Manzanar, California) during World War II as well as the difficulties they experienced as they tried to rebuild their lives after the war.

As a Japanese-American sansei and artist, the opportunity was to provide insight on so many levels, and proved that my interests in the life, arts and culture of Japan is very tightly interwoven with my life as I knew it as a child.
--Final Report, Wendy Maruyama, (Fellow 1995), sculptor/furniture maker

I'm worried about not wanting to lose some of the changes that have occurred in me. The most obvious of those might be my ability to speak and understand a little Japanese, but there are more subtle things that are more difficult to pinpoint and very hard to articulate… I think I will be quietly making constant comparisons between Japanese ways and American ways for some time.
--Final Report, Pamela Z (Fellow 1998), performance artist

Thomas Loeser (fellow 1992), visual artist

Bertha, 1987
In collaboration with Charles Crowlley
Poplar, steel, aluminum, milk paint, and oil paint, 77x22x15

An innovative contemporary studio furniture maker, Thomas Loeser combines traditional furniture making technique with a contemporary aesthetic sensibility. This piece is an example of Loeser's early work.

Another significant contribution to my experience was the introduction by many previous Japan Fellowship recipients to various artists and craftspeople. I found the network of program artists to be invaluable and made the task of proper introductions less daunting. This in turn, led to other introductions that resulted in genuine friendships.
--Final Report, Wendy Maruyama, (Fellow 1995), sculptor/furniture maker

Little by little, in the context of an intuited connection between the art of the gardens and the art of Noh, I "discovered" Japanese aesthetics, as personal experience coalesced around ideas that were hundreds and hundreds of years old.
--Final Report, John Farrell(Fellow 1999), puppet theater

David Mura (fellow 1986), writer

In the first chapter of his book, Turning Japanese: Memoirs of a Sansei (1991), Mura explains that at first, "I had applied for a U.S./Japan Creative Artist Exchange Fellowship mainly because I wanted time to write." What resulted instead was a deeply reflective and transformative experience that forced him to re-evaluate his identity as a third-generation Japanese American. Turning Japanese is Mura's account of his encounter with Japan.

"We were given the house of a university professor outside Kyoto-a modern two-story house in the suburbs. For an American, even in what was considered a spacious new neighborhood, there seemed too many people squeezed into too small an area. It was something that would take time getting used to."
--Final Report, Robert Cumming, (Fellow 1982), visual artist

Robert Cumming (fellow 1982), visual artist
Rowboat with Fixed Mast in Fog, 1981
charcoal on paper, 24 x 10 inches

"In that first month I did what was to become an important drawing for me - Rowboat with Fixed Mast in Fog. A drawing like this took a day or two of preliminary sketches and a couple days for execution. My outdoor studio was pressed against a screen of bamboo and creeping weeds lining a small open sewage ditch and across this, my neighbors' kitchen windows, unseen, only 15' away. It frightened me the first time I heard it. I couldn't begin to identify it; kind of a cross between a deep buzzing of bees and some ominous mechanical computer voice. I had to pause in the drawings to ponder its strangeness, to try to figure it out. Although it was later explained away as the husband and wife chanting "Nomyo Ho renge kyo", the drawing which my gallery never sold, has remained one of my favorites; one of the few I've hung and have been able to look at over the twenty intervening years. For all the things packed so tightly in it, it was much like the Japanese neighborhood where it was made."

Sally Gross (fellow 1998), choreographer

Performance of "Roof on the Well", a work inspired by Japan and performed at the Merce Cunningham Studio in New York, December 2000.
Photo by Nan Melville (NY Times)

Gross says of her time in Japan: "It was an extraordinary experience. During my stay I studied the dance form juitamai where I found simplicity, passion and restraint. I spent time in the mountains of Koya and Obama, the islands of Sado with the Kodo drummers, the cities on the Sea of Japan. I explored gardens and parks, ancient temples and modern buildings, festivals and factories. I attended traditional and contemporary theater, music and dance performances."

William Pope.L (fellow 2000), performance artist

Shopping Crawl, duration - endurance piece
Performed at Yoyogi Park, Shibuya (Tokyo, Japan) on March 17, 2001
Photo by Sawada Shigeno/Pope.L ©

Celebrating the U.S. - Japan Creative Artists Exchange Fellowship Program
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