Carol Hill, “Wabi-Sabi Aware”

Cover with book closed.

Pages 4 & 5: “Handmade- Imperfect” showing text and pockets with photo images.

Pages 8 & 9: Section on traditional Japanese arts – “Haiku” showing detail of FOX photograph with original poem printed on the back. There are three additional photo-poems in the pockets.

Pages 14 & 15: Introduction on section “Wabi-Sabi in the West”.

Pages 22 & 23: “The spirit of Wabi-Sabi”.


Carol Hill (Wichita, KS)

Wabi-Sabi Aware
Cover hand dyed and lettered on pellon with monoprint and woven designs. Pages of brown craft paper, some with accordian folds and pockets to hold 5×7 photographs (up to 4 photographs per topic, e.s. “Handmade-Imperfect” and “Haiku”. Text computer printed on hand dyed paper. Decorated pages collaged with bits of handmade papers, fiber, and tiny decorative designs.
Unique work
27 pages
Dimensions open: 8 3/4 x 11 3/4 x 2
Dimensions closed: 8 3/4 x 5 3/4 x 2

Wabi-Sabi Aware is a personal exploration of the Japanese philosophy. What follows is an informal outline of the path this exploration has taken. A format is used that allows the subject to grow and encourages the active participation of the reader.

Wabi-sabi is commonly understood to be a way of life, simplified, balanced, and enriched with quality handmade objects. It is a life lived close to nature which may grow more beautiful with age.

Wabi-Sabi, with elements of Buddhism, can, however, be better understood through a knowledge of Japanese traditional arts, such as gardens, haiku poetry, flower arranging, brush painting, block prints, and the tea ceremony.

This exploration leads to deeper questions: Is wabi-sabi ancient, only to be understood and practiced by Asians? How can wabi-sabi be both natural and handmade? Can it be defined? Exploration of these questions, leads to additional discoveries about wabi-sabi in Western and contemporary settings.

Wabi-Sabi elements seem apparent in some Western art movements and the works and lives of individual artists such as William Morris, the Society of Shakers, and Frank Lloyd Wright. Wabi-Sabi develops as a guide to a life of increased awareness and as a learned discipline that can prepare an artist to capture a moment in his own art with such life force that an attentive viewer can participate in the experience.

We come to understand that Wabi-Sabi is not to be defined in words but must be activily experienced, and the primary way is to be alive and aware. This book offers a path toward discovery of wabi-sabi for an individual new to the philosophy, but will perhaps be more meaningful for those who are already practicing elements of wabi sabi and had not yet recognized it. When the reader begins to ask questions, the subject becomes his own.

The photographs reflect personal moments: quotations and notes written on the back add further reflections to the text. Pockets for pictures and notes allow the reader to add and subtract as exploration becomes their own personal journey toward Wabi-Sabi Aware.