One of my favorite classes during my undergraduate degree at Smith College was a course on Japan Buddhism. In addition to learning a bit of Japanese history and reading poetry, the professor introduced us to practices like tea ceremony and ikebana (Japanese flower arranging). Later, my Masters’ thesis explored the role and evolution of traditional ikat weaving in Balinese culture. Following a trip to mainland China, I also studied a bit of Chinese calligraphy as part of an independent study. Although I was truly terrible at it, the experience deepened my appreciation of the form, it’s history, and it’s cultural complexity.
If I consider my academic history and interests, that has been a common thread for me throughout my life. In the fifth grade (I was ten), I wrote a paper about how needlepoint in the Colonies evolved in response to the unique conditions faced by the colonists:
Sadly, today most of my evaluation of creativity and culture occurs when I’m trying to determine the most impactful slides for a speaking engagement. But given how long this area has been of interest to me, I imagine it will come around again.