Ikebana is the Japanese art of flower arranging that evolved in Japan over seven centuries ago. It is a disciplined art form in which nature and humanity are brought together and is more than simply putting flowers in a container. Contrary to the idea of floral arrangement as a collection of multiple blooms, ikebana often emphasizes other areas of the plant such as its leaves and stems to highlight line, shape, and form. Though ikebana is a creative expression, it has certain rules governing its practice. The artist’s intention behind each arrangement is shown through a piece’s graceful lines, natural shapes, color combinations, and the usually implied meaning of the arrangement. The key consideration is to use as few stems and leaves as possible in composing elegant contours that highlight the flower’s beauty.
Another key aspect of ikebana is its utilization of minimalism. An arrangement may consist of only a minimal number of blooms interspersed among stalks and leaves. The structure of this flower arrangement is based on a scalene triangle characterized by three main points (usually twigs) considered in some persuasions to personify heaven, earth, and man or in others to symbolize the sun, moon, and earth. The container is also an important element of the composition and is chosen with care. The desire to create harmony between flower and container plays a large part in the choice of blooms selected for a particular piece. The selection also takes into consideration where the arrangement will be placed; the artist searches for flowers that will complement its surroundings.
The spiritual aspect of ikebana is very important to its practitioners. Silence is a must during the practice of ikebana; it is a time to appreciate things in nature that are often overlooked. This is also the time when one feels closer to nature, which provides relaxation for the mind, body, and soul. An artist becomes more patient and tolerant of differences, not only in nature, but in general. Ikebana can inspire people to identify with beauty in all forms of art.
In order to be able to arrange the flowers and stems precisely how the artist wants them, knowledge of positioning and fastening techniques are required. That is what people take ikebana classes to learn and it generally takes between three to five years of study to obtain the necessary expressive and technical skills to practice this form of art.
Ikebana has developed many different arrangement styles over the seven centuries of its evolution. Among the most common are seika or shoka (living flowers), rikka (standing flowers), moribana (piled-up flowers) which uses dish-like containers, and nageire (flung flowers) when creating arrangements in bowl-shaped vases.
Traditionally, these flower arrangements were placed in the toko-no-ma, which is the alcove in rooms where guests were normally received. Today they are still frequently found in foyers and living rooms, as well as in shop windows and building lobbies.
From May 8 to May 10 and again from May 14 to 17, the Sogetsu Study Group of South Jersey will provide 4 Ikebana arrangements at the Markeim Arts Center available for viewing during regular gallery hours (gallery will be open 10 am to 2 pm on Mother’s Day).
Interested in learning more about this unique art form? Join us on Sunday, May 17, 2015, as Ikebana master artist Mariko holds a demonstration on this time-honored Japanese art form at the Markeim Arts Center. The event will run from 12 – 2 PM and tickets are $25 per person with a bento box lunch following the occasion. Call (856) 429- 8585 to register now. Space is limited.