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GSDP to display art of Japanese artist Shimada

June 4, 2012

Beginning today, the Greater Starkville Development Partnership art gallery will display the works of Japanese artist Tsugako Shimada throughout the month of June.

Known as Suiboku-Ga, the Yogen Association style of Japanese art made its American debut in 2008 when Mississippi State University displayed Shimada's work at a show in Giles Hall.

Art professor Brent Funderburk said Shimada's work represents the interaction between natural and manmade environments of the artist's native Japan.

"Sublimity and serenity are moods achieved by Mrs. Shimada's virtuosic performances of hand, mind and heart," Funderburk said.

Literally meaning "water ink picture," Shimada began studying Suiboku-Ga in 1975 and eventually began studying under "Oo-Sensei" Mr. Haruka Morimoto.

A Starkville resident and personal friend of Shimada, Lucy Phillips said Morimoto was responsible for developing a completely Japanese style of painting that reflected the misty landscape of Japan.

"I was invited by a friend who studied through the Yogen Association to attend the yearly art exhibit," Phillips said. "I was completely spellbound by the art."

Phillips spent three years in Japan while her husband taught at Meisei University and was invited to take lessons soon after her first encounter with the Yogen Association.

"I was invited to observe a lesson, and when I got there the teacher put paper in front of me and brush in my hand," Phillips said. "Soon after, Mrs. Shimada was asked to come to the lessons to help the 'foreigner.'"

Phillips said over the centuries the tools of the artists have remained virtually unchanged, and the techniques and styles of each teacher represent his or her own style of painting.

"Viewers often say the style provides feelings of serenity and calm," Phillips said. "There are elements of Zen, not so much the religious aspect, but the sense of peacefulness."

Along with the displays in the GSDP art gallery, an auxiliary show will be held at the Cullis Wade Depot on campus at MSU.

"Except for the larger works, all of the art will be on sale," Phillips said.

Phillips said Shimada has always enjoyed her trips to Starkville and has made many friends during her visits.

"This may be the last time she can make a trip like this," Phillips said. "She loves it here, though. She once said, 'Starkville is my place.'"

A reception for Shimada will be held Tuesday, June 5 from 5:30-7:30 p.m. in the GSDP gallery. The public is invited to attend the show and meet the artist.

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