By Sharon LePage, MEA, Library Director, Chaminade University
Fine Arts professor, Yukio Ozaki (MEA), teaches his students as he was taught by his Ikebana instructor in the Ohara School of Flower Arrangement. He tells them to arrange with legs, not with hands, to extensively prepare for a project so that when you’re finally ready to work on it, you have the cumulative knowledge to bring all the pieces to the table. His style has definitely changed throughout the years. He does not arrange as much today because once the plants have been cut, they will no longer grow and develop.
When asked about the spiritual element of flower arranging, he notes that even viewing the plants in their setting can be a spiritual connection. An arrangement specifically created for spirituality can impress him with its honesty and he demonstrates this type of connection. He gathers wild flowers from the landscape and places them on the end of a long bamboo pole as Tentōbana, a divine floral offering.
Yukio feels blessed to be an educator at Chaminade University, since he job hopped before settling down to teach. He has always been interested in 3-dimensional art, first wood carving in his youth, then flower arranging, sculpture and ceramics. He shared his love for flower arranging with the Marianist Educational Associates and reminds his colleagues that there is always something to learn from people who are influenced by the ephemeral nature of plants as supported by God. Joan Riggs, Environmental + Interior Design Director (MEA), responded to this session in an email, “As I watched you carefully and thoughtfully prune the branches and leaves and flowers during the Ikebana demonstration, I realized this is how you teach. You meticulously examine your students’ work and guide them to discover and to discern what is relevant and meaningful and what can be discarded or re-used in a different way.”