Suminagashi is an ancient and meditative Japanese marbling art that was practiced at least as early as the 12th century. Through the floating of ink on water and patterns made through reciprocity with the natural world (wind, breath, and land vibrations, as well as manipulations with other environmental subtleties such as drawing with pine tree needles), we create monotype prints on paper and cloth that express the unique realities of the current moment. SuminagashiScape is inspired by traditional suminagashi but furthers an experimental approach based on particular ideas of place and scape—or a "wide view of place."
Place is best understood within this project to be "the experiential and expressive ways places are known, imagined, yearned for, held, remembered, voiced, lived, contested and struggled over," as defined by anthropologists Steven Feld and Keith Basso in Senses of Place. SuminagashiScape: The Driftless is designed to enlarge participants' experience of place, specifically the Driftless Region within Winona County, by engaging modes of meaning such as knowing, remembering, and imagining as they resonate through the project activities with particular people at this unique time in their lives and imprint themselves upon paper and fabric. Through a process that celebrates curiosity and intuition, SuminagashiScape provides a healing pathway by which all members of the community can connect with themselves and their environment to make something beautiful and surprising.
The history of suminagashi is long and layered. I discovered Japanese marbling through a convergence of loves, including book arts, landscape, and contemplative practice. SuminagashiScape does not seek or claim to embody the fullness of meaning inherent in such nuanced, lived experience born within particular place. I am grateful, however, for those who have shared suminagashi with me and offer encouragement to honor its invitation to explore and embrace the deep and multifaceted interconnection that draws us closer to ourselves, to each other, and to our local landscapes—and, ultimately, to our shared world as a place of profound and everlasting belonging.
Dawn Tevis is a public librarian and paper marbler whose affection for the natural world is deeply rooted in the Appalachian foothills. She now resides in the Driftless bluffs of Winona, MN. Dawn is passionate about creative placemaking and community engagement and explores through her programming and art the dynamic reciprocity of inner and outer landscapes. She seeks to listen to and learn from the voice of the land and others who are vulnerable to help further the vitality and diversity of the evolving and collective narrative of place.