Mottainai 12


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Jeanne Heifetz
Ink on gampi torinoko paper hand-dyed with indigo
11″ x 15″

Mottainai is a Japanese admonition against waste. Born of the enforced frugality of poverty — and later of wartime — mottainai is both a practical and ethical commitment to preserve, repair, and reuse. As embodied in repeatedly patched indigo boro textiles, mottainai asserts the inherent dignity and worth – even sacredness — of humble objects.

However, mottainai is equally an exhortation not to waste time. These drawings are not utilitarian work garments or blankets. The labor-intensive process of drawing, although akin to stitching, serves no practical purpose. In the end, does the drive to create beauty for its own sake respect or defy this exhortation?