Because last week I posted about the East-meets-Charlottesville store Artifacts and this week my aunt and uncle’s home featured a good dosage of Oriental influences as well, I’ve had the Japanese art of Wabi Sabi on my mind. The art of finding perfection in the imperfect has been something to ponder, not in it’s strictest, most technically true sense, but in my knowing really nothing about Wabi Sabi and deciding that it is the prettiest-sounding way to describe a mess. “Look at my clutter! It’s perfect in it’s imperfection. That’s Wabi Sabi. You may not have heard of it…it’s Japanese.” While a little voice in the back of my mind tells me this is so ungrounded in reality as to be borderline offensive to anyone who knows what they’re talking about, another little voice in my head just saw something shiny and is indisposed at the moment. I couldn’t help but wonder, as I started Spring cleaning last week, what makes a mess a mess?
Is it simply having clutter around you? Or is there a lack of structure in the clutter that speaks to a completely unstable state of mind? That’s where the world of Hayao Miyazaki comes in. Miyazaki is an Academy-Award winning animator whose films I have loved since I was a wee eight-year-old. His films are always set in the most absolutely beautiful, fantastical locations – mostly because he’s drawing them and can make them look however he’d like, but also because he pulls inspiration from the best of castles-era European architecture and my idea of heaven. Miyazaki’s depiction of the artist at work, as seen above in two screencaps from My Neighbor Totoro and Kiki’s Delivery Service, speaks to a manifestation of that creative interior life – which is to say that there is an artful mess around these people who are in the act of expressing themselves. (Actually, the father in that first picture might be paying bills…)
But is messiness a state of being or a reflection of an act? Comedienne Amy Sedaris’s apartment in House & Garden definitely looks cluttered, but I think that’s ok because it speaks to her artistic temperament. At least the stuffed animals are on shelves, right? Le sigh. Then again, there’s something so appealing about a floor sparsely populated with furniture that’s supposed to be there – it leaves room for dancing!
I guess the moral of this story is that I wish I lived in a children’s movie where all of my mess neatly filled a frame and disappeared when I had company over. If you stop by and everything is in shambles, it’s because I write and take pictures. I’m an artist and I’m practicing wabi sabi.