A & E

Japanese Calligrapher Explains Shodo Art and Techniques

Photo courtesy of Sora

Clark College’s ASCC Japanese Program welcomed performing artist Sora from Portland to teach viewers about a form of Japanese calligraphy called Shodo. Sora demonstrated multiple types of Shodo, offered a lecture and Q&A during a Zoom meeting on Friday.

Sora explained that in her opinion, Shodo pieces should have meaning.

“When I create, I paint what I visualize,” Sora said. “With every stroke, I put my meaning. When I teach Shodo, with each line, I put my meaning.” 

Sora explained two types of Shodo: kaisho and kanji. She said that kaisho consists of larger, block-shaped characters created from a thick brush made of horse or sheep hair. Kanji, on the other hand, are thin characters created by a fine brush. 

Almost all of her materials are made from natural products. During the session, Sora created her own Sumi ink to paint with. As she mixed the ink and water in circles, she explained that this motion brings peace.

Sora practiced a meditation to clear her mind before painting one of her pieces. She created an image titled “Bud” which was inspired by the stage before a flower blooms. She said that she currently feels like a bud and hopes to bloom into a flower. 

Sora creates original works and she also copies from textbooks and scripts. She goes by the title of a performing artist because her work is inspired by her audience’s energy. 

Pre-pandemic, Sora performed alongside musicians, dancers and physical audiences. She said that she misses the atmosphere of face-to-face performances. 

Sora has not always created original pieces. When she lived in Japan, she competed in Shodo competitions where competitors had to copy the alphabet and other characters. 

She said that there was more pressure when creating Shodo in Japan, while America gives her more creative freedom.

“It’s important to learn form and culture,” Sora said. “Once you learn those, then you can continue your passion through expression.” 


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