Write Around PAM: Utagawa Hiroshige

Fukagawa Susaki and Jūmantsubo, No. 107 from the series One Hundred Famous Views of Edo, Utagawa Hiroshige, 13 3/16 in x 8 3/4 inches, color woodblock print on paper. A vertical, rectangular print showing a large bird of prey in flight with its head down and wings spread wide as flies over the land below. The bird fills the upper third of the print and is rendered in black and gray feathers with long plumage on the head. The wing on the right dips down to the lower part of the print and its talons can be seen at upper left under the bird. Below are a mountain range with two peaks and a forested landscape that meets a calm blue sea. Simple tree shapes and small hills are depicted in black on creamy, white ground with pale blue used for shading. The sea is also pale blue that gradually deepens at the bottom of the print. Simple black lines show shallow waves. “Fukagawa Susaki and one hundred thousand tsubo” in Japanese is printed in black ink in a green square cartouche with cloud-pattern ground at upper right. One hundred thousand tsubos is about 33 hectares. To the right of this is a red rectangular cartouche that reads “one hundred views of famous places of Edo” in Japanese and is printed in black ink. The artist’s signature appears at far left center in a red rectangular cartouche and reads “picture (by) Hiroshige.

Writing allows us the chance to gain new perspective to write about our own experiences, or to step into someone else’s. This week, we invite you to spend some time with this piece by Utagawa Hiroshige and see what new perspectives it might offer you. Before or after you write, take some time to learn about Hiroshige’s life and art.⠀

First, take a moment to think about things that circle the sky. Birds, storms, stars. Now think about themes or feelings that are circling around your life. Write a list of these things and notice: Are the circles widening? Are they tightening? Looking at these themes or feelings from above, what new perspectives can you see?

We have some prompts to help you get started. You can choose one, both or follow your own adventure. Set a timer for 7 minutes and just keep the pen moving.

I’ve always been… / I’m trying to understand…

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 posts from Sundays in May, June and July, and look for continuing weekly posts in August. Please share your work with us! @writearoundpdx @portlandartmuseum #RespectWritingCommunity #WriteAroundPAM 

Utagawa Hiroshige (Japanese, 1797-1858), Fukagawa Susaki and Jūmantsubo, no. 107 from the series One Hundred Famous Views of Edo, 1857, color woodblock print on paper, image: 13 1/4 in x 8 3/4 in; sheet: 14 3/16 in x 9 3/8 in, The Mary Andrews Ladd Collection, public domain, 32.534

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