Setsuko Gion - Artist

Setsuko Gion

I live in Portland, Oregon. I was born in 1960 and grew up in Morioka, Japan. I started Japanese calligraphy at age six. While I was in elementary school and junior high school, my favorite class was art. I enjoyed water color and drawing. I taught myself oil painting. In 1982, I married an American sculptor, Jim Gion. In late 2009, Jim started paper casting, which attracted my interest in papermaking. In the summer of 2010, I did an internship at a handmade papermaking studio, Cave Paper in Minneapolis, Minnesota.There, I also learned suminagashi. I am now producing artwork using suminagashi techniques and Japanese calligraphy on paper that I makes myself at my home studio.


Artist Statement

In summer 2010 when I went to Minneapolis to study handmade papermaking, I had no idea that I would have an opportunity to learn suminagashi, Japanese marbling. Suminagashi means “floating ink” in Japanese. While sumi ink is floating on the surface of the water in motion, it is impossible to hold the movement of the water. What the paper captures is the pattern of that particular moment when I place the paper on the surface of the water. The same pattern cannot be created twice. Even though I can see the movement of the floating ink, until the paper is lifted from the surface of the water, there is no way to know exactly how the pattern will be transferred to the paper. It is always a surprise.

The Chinese philosopher, Chauang Tzu said, “Flow with whatever is happening naturally and let your mind be free. Stay centered by accepting whatever you are doing.” When I watch sumi ink floating, I often think about the series of natural and spontaneous changes that has been my life.

I started Japanese brush calligraphy at age six in Japan. At that time I had no idea I would be making paper or suminagashi in America. I can now incorporate my calligraphy with suminagashi and handmade paper. I enjoy exploring the harmony of the variety of texture and colors of paper, patterns of suminagashi, and lines and rhythms of calligraphy.

Thank you for taking the time to visit my Web site!

Setsuko Gion

© 2013-2017 Setsuko Gion