The best part about starting Cultural Flanerie is the world of wonderful things it has opened up for me. I already knew the planet was full of amazing stories, but I’m so pleased to find it continues to delight with unexpected treasures, and this one is a beauty.
Inspiring stories don’t come much better than that of Japanese Shodo artist Shoko Kanazawa. The daughter of a calligraphy teacher, Kanazawa was born in Japan in 1985. Despite the challenges of having Downs Syndrome, her mother encouraged her to experiment with calligraphy when she was just five years of age. Together, mother and daughter devised a technique of creating large scale works with big, bold brush strokes that allowed Kanazawa the freedom of artistic expression within the parameters of traditional calligraphy sensibilities. By the time Kanazawa was a teenager she was exhibiting in temples in throughout Japan, performing live demonstrations to crowds around the country.
Today, Shoko Kanazawa will get to see her work exhibited at the 22nd Outsider Art Festival in New York City, before travelling on to Paris for the French equivalent in October.
I love this story because Shoko Kanazawa is not an artist made special by her differences. That she has Downs Syndrome is almost irrelevant to her artistic ability. Kanazawa is a stand out due to the precise and unique skill with which she creates her vast works of art, and the way she has taken the ancient art of calligraphy and made it her own.
And that makes her pretty special in my book.
Images taken from Spoon & Tamago.