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Soboku-e “Innocent Paintings,” the Art of Artlessness, and Mindful Art Journaling
Are doodling and scribbling art? Does “artless art” exist? What does art do to our everyday life anyway? This three-letter word has sustained so many discussions, debates, and studies of the history of art and visual culture across regions and cultures, including topics such as soboku-e “Innocent Paintings” in Japanese art.

While traditional Japanese art seems defined by words like meticulousness and craftsmanship, soboku-e are works with simple, naïve, and idyllic qualities created by trained and untrained artists in premodern Japan. The seemingly artless soboku-e came from the practical aspect of visual narrative for the non-aristocrat viewers. However, soboku-e represent some of the purest forms of Japanese aesthetics rooted in Zen meditative practices that are still inspiring to us today: stay mindful, observe the present moment, and find peace with your honest thoughts.

Artist Mew Lingjun Jiang will tour you through the history of soboku-e, exhibiting the breadth of styles and materials from painted scrolls to woodblock-printed books. The “Innocent Paintings” all have a purpose of narrating a story, convey a message, and communicate with their viewers without sophisticated rhetoric, while leaving space for different interpretations.

No language prerequisite for Japanese or a background in Japanese history is required. After the talk, Mew will showcase their artworks of doodles, comic strips, and illustrations with a soboku-e playful spirit, inviting you to join their workshop to make soboku-e through mindful journaling that you can incorporate into everyday practices.

No art skill is required, either! All you need is a pen and some paper, as well as an open mind for art! With simple scribbles of strokes, wiggly shapes, and a mindset that art is a means of expression without “good or bad,” you can delight yourself with drawings that visualize your present moment.

Apr 30, 2021 03:00 PM in Central Time (US and Canada)

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