Works and Days



Leadership and Aikido in Japan: Rebeca Willis-Conger, Fellowship for Winter International Travel

Yoko Sensei (center, front) surrounded by her dojo

Rebeca Willis-Conger, sophomore sociology major, received a Reed Fellowship for International Travel to study Aikido in Japan.  

I love traveling. I always get nervous before leaving, convinced that I am not adequately prepared, anxious about all the accidents that might befall me. Then I leave my comfort zone and rediscover how capable I am. The world becomes someplace exciting and new to explore, while my anxieties appear slightly ridiculous. My trip to Japan was no exception.


Japanese Woodblock Printing, Presidents Summer Fellowship, Second Chapter

Work in the studio is well under way with my instructor Richard Steiner, who has been teaching Moku Hanga, or Japanese woodblock printmaking, for over twenty years and is an established artist in Kyoto. His studio is near downtown Kyoto and makes use of every square inch of it’s modest size.  Steiner has dreams of moving his studio to an abandoned temple in the countryside of Japan, but for now we work in the little house, where everything--brushes, rulers, paints, scissors, rulers, papers--has its right place. Usually there are only one or two students in the studio at a time, so the room never gets too crowded.

Traditional moku hanga separated the designing, the carving, and the printing of artworks into three distinct roles to be performed by the artist, the carver, and the printer. In Steiner’s studio, we still maintain this separation, but the artist performs all three jobs. Many traditional moku-hanga instructors begin by teaching students as a master would an apprentice: by asking students first to adhere to the instructor’s style. Richard Steiner, however, while following the traditional method of moku-hanga printing, encourages students to explore their own ideas when designing prints. What results is a collections of whimsical and creative works made by Steiner and past students which fill every spare spot of wall in the studio.

The photographs below show me working on my third print, and my first with color. The paints used are simple water colors, mixed with a starch paste.

Japanese Woodblock Printing: Cultural Connections and Dialogues through Art, Presidents Summer Fellowship

Growing up, Japan was always a large presence in my life. My mother made sure that I spoke Japanese fluently, and filled our household with the food, music, and traditions of her world. She also enrolled me in a Japanese school system in Eugene, Oregon, where I was able to continue learning about Japan outside my home. The result was a life suspended between the country of my heritage thousands of miles across the Pacific, and the American culture surrounding me. I am in Japan to learn the craft of traditional woodblock printing, an art that holds a vital place in Japan’s history, and has fascinated and influenced me for several years. Richard Steiner, an artist who resides in Kyoto and has taught for more than thirty years has agreed to teach me a seven week course on the art form. While in Kyoto I will also educate myself by fully engaging in the Japanese community to grasp what it means to be a part of the culture in a way I haven’t previously been able. I want to share and help pass on this rich traditional craft and opportunity for creativity. To do so, I will create an introductory art course on woodblock printing and offer the class in Portland where students will create their own Japanese prints and learn about the history of the art form.