Posts Tagged 'amelia chau'

Izu’s, and Detroit’s, Sacred Places

Yesterday, the DIA had the distinct honor of hosting Kenro Izu at an artist’s lecture, during which he described his 30-plus years of photographing sacred places around the world. For Izu, it is a personal journey that has taken him from recognizing the enduring sacredness surrounding ancient stone structures, to witnessing the impermanence of existence — both human and architectural, to, recently, allowing himself exposure to the sacred inner spirit of the residents of Bhutan when he photographed them. (Izu’s current traveling exhibition is entitled “Bhutan: the Sacred Within”). Happily for us, Izu’s personal quest and his desire to communicate his vision has yielded a wonderful corpus of photographs that is inspirational on so many levels. I think many will agree with me when I say that viewing his work is, in itself, a spiritual experience.

It is this personal connection to the subject that I found so prevalent in the entries to our Detroit’s Sacred Places competition. Many of you had personal stories to tell when describing the moment, object, or site you photographed. Your stories and histories were as diverse as this greater Detroit area we call home, and I truly enjoyed viewing your submissions and reading your descriptions. As my fellow jurors Nancy Barr and Kyohei Abe commented, we selected the winners with an awareness of Izu’s approach to his work. We felt that the winning entries were powerful visual images, all of them replete with an awareness of Detroit’s history. The idea of sacredness translates from the personal meaning these sites embody for the photographers, and in the case of the 1st and 2nd prize winners, a tangible sense of hope for the future. Personally, I find these entries quite moving, and I can sense the affection all of our photographers have for this rough-and-tumble city.

Please accept my sincere “thank you” and “congratulations” to all of our participants. We are truly gratified by your enthusiastic response to our first Flickr photo contest, and to Izu’s exhibition and lecture. We hope to see you soon and often at the DIA.

Amelia Chau


The Reaches of Nature

Strada’s Barbecue
saintpeg (From Detroit’s Sacred Places Flickr Photo Contest)
When I first moved to Detroit twelve years ago, I would spend weekends driving the streets of my newly-adopted home, trying to find my bearings and learn the neighborhoods. One thing that struck me then repeatedly, and continues to impress upon me now, was that one could always find nature thriving amidst abandonded and decaying structures. This photograph of a tree reaching out from a shuttered building seems to me to reaffirm the resilience of the natural world. I can almost imagine a seed landing inside the building gate, sprouting and growing with the available sunlight, its slender branches finding openings in the gate and escaping the confines of the building, until the tree appears now an integral part of the structure.

Among Kenro Izu’s haunting photographs of the temples of Angkor Wat are images that show mammoth trees invading, and sometimes toppling, ancient stone structures. Here, the power of nature seems more gentle, but no less assertive.

I enjoyed seeing this photograph and reading your thoughts about the sacred moment. Thank you for posting it.

Remains of Greatness

remains of greatnessbuckshot.jones

(From the Detroit’s Sacred Places Flickr Group)

This photograph reminds me of Kenro Izu’s print of the ruined city of Vijayanagar in India. In his photograph of the once-magnificent Hindu “City of Victory,” Izu contrasts small stones (likely piled up by pilgrims) in the foreground against remnants of 15th century stone temples in the distance. Here, building blocks of the venerated automobile are strewn in a forgotten pile a short distance away from crumbling houses. The treatment of the light in the two photographs are very different, but the feeling of reverence for the place is, to me, the same, as is, perhaps, a hope for transcendance?

Thank you for posting.

Canine sentry – around the world

Snow Dog – Belle Isle, Detroit, Bill Schwab
(From Detroit’s Sacred Places Flickr Group)

Seeing this evocative image sent me on a mental journey half way around the world – to Tokyo, where a famous sculpture of a faithful dog resides. In the 1920s, Hachiko, an Akita, met his owner Professor Ueno every day at the train station as he returned from teaching at the University of Tokyo. Even after the professor took ill and passed away at work one day in 1925, Hachiko returned every day for ten years to the station, waiting for his owner. Hachiko became famous throughout Japan for his devotion, and in 1934 a bronze sculpture in his likeness was erected at the Shibuya station where he kept sentry. Today, the exit closest to Hachiko’s sculpture is known as the “Hachiko exit,” and is a very popular meeting spot.

I walked by Hachiko’s sculpture many times on my last trip to Tokyo, but now I can’t help but wonder – is the “Hachiko exit” sacred ground for any of the hundreds of young people milling about the sculpture waiting for friends? And what is the story behind this sculpture of a dog on Belle Isle, braving the snow here so patiently? I would really like to know its history.
Thank you, Bill, for posting this photo.

Speaking of Art WAAM 1600 7/20@5P with Amelia Chau & Nancy Barr

On Sunday, July 20 from 5 to 6 p.m. Amelia Chau and I will talk with Edwin Hoffman, host of his program “Speaking of Art” (WAAM 1600 broadcasting from Ann Arbor) about the exhibition Kenro Izu Sacred Places and our “Detroit’s Sacred Places” photo contest.

Amelia Chau

Amelia Rivera Court

Amelia Rivera Court

Hi! My name is Amelia Chau and I am the Assistant Curator of Asian Art at the DIA. I was born in Hong Kong, attended college in California, and hold an MA in the History of Art from the University of California, Riverside. My master’s thesis examined 20th century Chinese paintings in the context of traditional Chinese and modern European painting theories. Since 1996, I have worked on many installations of Asian art at the DIA.

I am interested in works by photographers who explore relationships between traditional and contemporary cultures and aesthetics. Works by Asian photographers Hiroshi Sugimoto, Atta Kim, Watanabe Yoshio, Sze Tsung Leong, and Kenro Izu are among my favorites.

Flickr Photos

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