White Ships and Future Centers

Over 150 years ago Admiral Perry’s Black Ship came to Japan and demanded that she open her doors to the world.  Ten years ago the White Ship set sail to unleash creativity in Japan and the world!

Today I had the wonderful experience of being hosted by the Future Center of Tokio Marine & Nichido Systems for a Vision Art workshop produced by the White Ship.  Kuni Yazawa and Kimi Hasebe from White Ship are an amazing team.  They invite people to explore the possibility that art can connect their minds with their spirits and deepest creative impulses.  They’ve developed a simple and powerful process, which I was able to participate in today.

It begins with viewing five drawings that Kuni-san has made.  The titles are blank.  We were each asked to write what we say in the picture on stickies and then place them around the picture.  Two English speakers and ten Japanese speakers spent ten minutes viewing and sensing into each image.  We placed our stickies on the board around the pictures and then Kimi-san read them and asked several of us to say more about what our impressions were.  We were invited into a realm of sensing and seeing and of letting go of judgments.

The ground was being prepared for us to step into our own creativity.  Soon the room was rearranged and we had tables and workspaces.  Kuni took us through a demonstration of how to work with chalk.  Spreading, and then mushing around with our fingers to begin to solidify the colors.  We were invited to explore the meaning of  “Origin.”  We each selected a textured card stock — an array of colors were available and the first step was to see which color called to each of us.

I was drawn to orange.  Sitting with my blank slate for a while, eating a cookie and sipping a cup of coffee, I wondered how it was to begin.  The “canvas” was with what is now the left edge at the bottom.  I found myself experimenting with drawing a circle which became the blue/grey circle in the drawing.  It looked a bit lonely up there, so I gave it some ground with red earth.  Then, since I studied sumi-e in Japan long ago. I tried to draw trees like I used to.  Big mistake.  One of the left and one on the right were just plain ugly.  Chalk and ink are different!  What to do?  Well, all was not lost, I discovered I could cover them up.  I made sweeping arcs in purple, overshadowing the green trees.  Hmm, I wondered.  What is this?  The arc, then on the left, seemed to reach up to the sphere.  Then another partial circle started to emerge.  Might it become a full circle.  The arc, then on the right, was nudged into a circle around a circle, with a circle within.  And so the process of creativity continued.  Finally once the circles had emerged, I looked at it from “four bottoms” and chose the one presented here.

We each worked quietly, separately and connected.  Each becoming absorbed in our own work.  The hour passed quickly.  And I found myself calm and grounded and actually feeling like I had produced something with a little beauty!

Our drawings were sealed, then framed and we were reunited with some questions for contemplation.  Next, all the drawings were placed in the front of the room.  Once again, we were asked to view each drawing and to use stickies to explain what we saw.  What a lovely collage of images across the front of the room!

Kimi worked her magic again. She read the comments around each drawing, called on the writers for more details, then asked the person who created the drawing to come hold it and tell us all about her or his process and the essences that were present for them.  It was a delightful sensing into the collective field.

We listened intently as each other described our own creative processes.

There’s a kind of centering that goes on in these kind of processes.  Even those of us who claim we can’t draw or can’t do this or that find an inner well of creativity.  Later in the night as we traveled back to downtown Tokyo by train, we talked about how it was as if life itself wanted to be free and rise up through us.

There’s so much available to us that we don’t usually see!  A lovely day with lovely people.  Here’s a few more pictures:  http://www.flickr.com/photos/49166333@N07/sets/72157625240046353/

November 11, 2010

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