Exhibiting Historical Art: Out of the Vault: Stories of People and Things


The water carrier has a bamboo handle, another concept from ancient Japanese culture. Vanderkooi harvests her own bamboo, washes it and microwaves it to destroy parasites before incorporating it in her ceramics. The bamboo is functional, further adding to the idea of simplicity in daily rituals in our modern society.
Bamboo is a tree-grass, meaning that it grows in leaf surface and extends high upwards but the base remains the same. It can grow up to 90 cm in 24 hours and maintains its height for 30 to 60 days.
Bamboo has a special significance for the Japanese. It has been used since the Jomon Period, from 10,000 B.C. to 300 B.C., and most of the 2,000 species of bamboo are native to Japan. It has been used for everything from toothbrushes to ceremonial baskets. Bamboo symbolizes purity, resilience and strength, thus representing the material culture of Japan.
Basket making is a particularly skillful craft that has been around since the eighth century in Japan. Basket making required six to ten years of intense apprenticeship. Once completed, baskets were used for Buddhist tea ceremonies, the art of flower arranging (ikebana), and water carrying. Vanderkooi chose to create this ceramic vase with bamboo to keep Japanese traditions alive, a phenomenon strongly encouraged by the Japanese government since World War II. The government even created the Living Natural Treasure Program to designate artists for basket making, solely to ensure this tradition continues.

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