A Wabi-Sabi Way of Seeing

Natural. Simple. Understated. Imperfect. Impermanent. These are words that might be used to describe the Japanese philosophy of wabi-sabi. In her book, Simply Imperfect: Revisiting the Wabi-Sabi HouseRobin Griggs Lawrence defines wabi-sabi as “the Japanese art of finding beauty in imperfection and profundity in nature, of accepting the natural cycle of growth, decay and death. It’s simple, slow and uncluttered—and it reveres authenticity above all.”

Amelia River in Fog. Encaustic photo. ©Lee Anne White.

Amelia River in Fog. Encaustic photo. ©Lee Anne White.

I like that. In fact, I just want to reach out and wrap my arms around it. My passion for the simple, natural, handcrafted, well worn and imperfect dates back as far as I can remember: My explorations in nature as a young child. The purchase of my first antique, a simple pine chest, when I was in high school. My collection of utilitarian Appalachian handicrafts, particularly pottery, which takes me back to my college days. Perhaps this explains why I love Japanese gardens and why much of the clothing I wear is based on Japanese patterns.

My hope is that this philosophy and aesthetic sensibility comes through in my work: In simple, uncluttered photographic compositions. In subject matter and my love of shooting in the “off” seasons. In the materials I choose to include in my encaustic mixed media pieces. I hope it conveys the beauty in the common, the simple and the natural; the handcrafted and homegrown; the aging, the quiet and the imperfect.