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The Healing Power of Salt
Emily Dickinson said, "If I feel physically as if the top of my head were taken off, I know that is poetry." By that criteria, the artwork of Motoi Yamamoto is pure poetry; ever since I first saw photographs of his evocative mazes and sculptures, I've felt as if I were walking around with a nothing to me above the nose. And get this, the images below are made out of salt. That's right, salt.
If there is a somber, haunting quality to these images, it's intentional. Motoi Yamamoto told The Japan Times that he started working with salt after the death of his sister of brain cancer at age 24: "I draw with a wish that, through each line, I am led to a memory of my sister. That is always at the bottom of my work. Each cell-like part, to me, is a memory of her that I call up, like a tiff I had with her over a pudding cake she took from the fridge. My wish is to put such tiny episodes together." According to this article, "Salt has a special place in the death rituals of Japan, and is often handed out to people at the end of funerals, so they can sprinkle it on themselves to keep evil spirits away."
What a powerful idea, and one that reminds us of the importance of ritual. Here in the States, we have a lot of secular rituals that help us handle marriages and baby births and other happy times, and not very many good ways to deal with grief. And yet here is one artist who has found his own way to work through his psychic pain, to keep his sister alive without sentimentalizing, to combine a mourning ritual with a creative path. The works are so lovely and intricate and, in their abstraction, open to interpretation—and, crucially, so ephemeral. According to the artist's own site, at the end of the exhibit he will return all the salt he's used to the sea, where it will rejoin the natural cycle of life.
via My Modern Met
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