Mottainai 36


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“Mottainai 36” by Jeanne Heifetz
Ink on Indigo Cave paper
28″ x 21″

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?

Of her Mottainai series, Heifetz says: “In 2021, I found myself returning to the Mottainai series. Although the original statement for that series holds true for this new iteration, the imagery of mending and repair had taken on new meaning. After the shock of being suddenly widowed in 2018, the global losses of the pandemic, and the deepening fractures in American society, I was thinking constantly about how we rebuild lives that have been altered by forces beyond our control, and how we can find joy in the process.”

In recent years, Jeanne was the recipient of the LABA Fellowship, at 14th Street Y, New York and exhibited in solo shows at the Alexey Von Schlippe Gallery, University of Connecticut and at the AVA Gallery, Lebanon, NH. She has also acted in a curatorial capacity for “No one leaves home unless: Berlin exiles 1938-1940,” which featured works on paper by Emily Hass at the Philadelphia Museum of Jewish Art.

Click here to browse other works by this artist.

Additional information

Weight 13 lbs