Support for the Arts

Mar. 05.2024

Support for the Arts

Here we want to take you on a virtual art tour. Our destination is the Department of Sculpture, on the lush Takanodai campus of Musashino Art University in Tokyo’s Kodaira City. We visited the department’s studios for woodcarving, stone sculpture, and metals and ceramics. Each has an installed Kito crane for moving materials and finished artworks. The students spoke with us, gradually revealing what was hidden in each piece, including the thoughts behind it and processes to get to the final form.

In the stone sculpture studio a small woman was polishing a stone much larger than herself, saying she plans to do a relief of ancient weapons on it. We asked how she draws inspiration for new idea. “I sometimes just start working on the stone, as if to communicate with it to understand its reactions. At other times I might begin by drawing a full-scale picture of the complete work.”

In the metal and ceramics studio we saw a group of students brainstorming for new ideas and listening to their instructor. We understood that a good sculpture requires not only the originality and techniques of the artist, but also knowledge of the nature of the materials employed and craft skills with knives, welding machines and the like.

In the woodcarving studio a sculpture of a horse stood out among the many pieces that greeted us. It was very realistic and full of presence. The sculptor, senior student, said, “I’m a horseback rider, and this is a representation of a horse I rode in my childhood. When I’m immersed in the work, I can empty my mind.” This was the first time for me to get in close to sculptures and their creators, and become fascinated with ideas turning into physical form.