I recently learned about the Japanese aesthetic referred to as “wabi-sabi.” For many years I’ve been trying to describe this very thing with my somewhat limited English vocabulary. When I stumbled upon the term wabi-sabi in Mother Earth News, it was as if my personal view of the world had finally found a place to settle and be understood… in Japanese culture.
The term “wabi-sabi” represents a comprehensive Japanese aesthetic centered on the notion of transience. Some qualities associated with wabi-sabi are impermanence, modesty, asymmetry, simplicity, integrity, and imperfection. The term can be applied to both living and inanimate objects, either natural or man-made. It is with this view of the world that I explore art, design, and photography.
It is truly a blessing to see the world through a lens that reveals the extraordinary in the ordinary, finds strength in weakness, and illuminates beauty in the banal. Wabi-sabi nurtures authenticity and seeks beauty in nature. When encountered, it can bring about a sense of serene melancholy or spiritual longing. It grounds us in our humanity and inspires deep appreciation for all that we are blessed with.