Write Around PAM: Shima Tamami

Tori B (Birds B), from James A. Michener, The Modern Japanese Print: An Appreciation, Shima Tamami, 15 1/16 x 10 9/16 inches, color woodblock print with embossing on torinoko paper. A vertical, rectangular print depicting three simple, stylized birds with long necks. A bird in the foreground is positioned so that its body, neck and head create a “J” shape that occupies much of the print. The upturned tail aligns with the left edge of the print, its body swoops down to touch the bottom edge and the neck and head with open beak rise up to the upper portion of the print at the right edge. This bird’s body is mostly a solid black with a gray and black-striped tail. Its eye and open beak are highlighted in white. Behind this bird are two more, both with the elongated necks and beaks of the first. They stand with bodies in the center of the print and heads and beaks at the top. The bird on the left is shown in profile with its beak facing left. It has a black body and a small striped tail. The bird at right overlaps its companion with its open beak and head facing right. Its body and wings are depicted in contrasting textures in black and very pale blue. All three birds overlap a background that is divided into three parts. The upper half and a wide strip of the lower part of the print have a medium gray wood grain texture. The section in the middle is a lighter gray with vertical, reed-like markings.

Oregonians have been asked to pause social gatherings to help curb the spike in COVID-19 cases across our state over the next two weeks. How can we step outside in our imaginations instead? Both the beauty found in this piece by Shima Tamami and the honking of geese and flitting of birds outside our windows can offer a chance to explore expansive opportunities, in our minds and on the page. We invite you to spend some time writing through possible anxieties, fears, frustrations, and opportunities offered by the ongoing ways this pandemic is changing our lives. Before or after you write, we encourage you to learn more about Shima’s work and life through the current Portland Art Museum exhibition Joryū Hanga Kyōkai, 1956–1965: Japan’s Women Printmakers and the book by James A. Michener, The Modern Japanese Print: An Appreciation.

We have two prompts to help you get started. As always, you can choose one, both, or write whatever else comes. Set a timer for 5 mins and just keep your pen moving.

Above the clouds… / We didn’t expect to find… 

Writing in community is powerful. We are grateful to our longtime partner Write Around Portland for the writing prompts and inspiration. You can revisit past Sunday posts and look for continuing weekly posts through the fall. Please share your work with us! @writearoundpdx @portlandartmuseum #RespectWritingCommunity #WriteAroundPAM 

Shima Tamami, Tori B (Birds B), from James A. Michener, The Modern Japanese Print: An Appreciation, 1959, color woodblock print with embossing on torinoko paper, The Carol and Seymour Haber Collection in memory of Ardis Spliid Hendricks, © unknown, research required, 2004.39f

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