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Florida Gulf Coast University
10501 FGCU Blvd, South
Fort Myers, FL 33965-6565
(239) 590-1000 or (800) 590-3428

KELSEY HALLBECK

KINTSUGI

Senior Project APRIL 2017

All beautiful, strong things carry with them traces of imperfection. Kintsugi is the Japanese art of repairing broken ceramics with gold lacquer that dates to the 15th century and follows the principles of wabi sabi, a Zen Buddhist philosophy that believes nothing is finished, perfect, or lasts. This practice celebrates the cracks as an important part of the object’s history by highlighting them with the gold lacquer. The idea that broken objects can be repaired, and that those repairs make the piece stronger and more beautiful, does not just apply to ceramics, but to people as well. Everyone at some point has suffered damage in their lives which may have been caused by their own actions, the actions of others, or the misfortune of bad luck. Whether the damage was caused by one such event or a combination of the three, humans have continually shown that they can piece themselves back together and find beauty and strength in repair.


I was inspired by the concept of kintsugi because of the emphasis placed on the optimism of repair rather than the suffering from trauma. As this project has progressed, I have come to realize that making art is my own type of kintsugi.  Art has become a way that I repair myself from events and losses that I have experienced. When I am in the studio, a therapeutic and meditative state is generated which allows me to heal myself through making art. I have used the concept of kintsugi to visually demonstrate this restorative process, and the work that has emerged because of this concept is representative of a transformation. It shows that there was damage, but more importantly that there was repair, preserving the experiences from beginning to end in tangible images. Cherry blossoms and peonies became the subject
matter because historically they were used as metaphors for the transience of life and the fragility of human emotion. Human hands are included as a part of the subject matter for certain drawings to help aid in translating that the concept of kintsugi can be applied to people. 


I began with a series of drawings that explored what compositions and subject matter best displayed the optimism behind repair. After the preliminary drawings were completed, the final drawings and prints were developed from the preliminary sketches. All works were made on rag paper using graphite for the drawings and AKUA printing ink for the prints. Drypoint was the printing process used and is typically done on a copper plate where a needle is used to etch the image into the plate. The entire plate is then inked and any ink that was not in the crevices of the etched image is wiped away. Once clean, the plate goes through a press where the pressure pushes out the remaining ink onto paper which creates the image. Both drawings and prints were intentionally torn and then stitched back together with gold thread to fully explore the concept of kintsugi.