Taiji Terasaki turns to art to honor his father
Following his father's death a year and a half ago, contemporary artist Taiji Terasaki of Honolulu felt untethered. Having no strong religious affiliation, he was unsure of how to grieve, with no traditional ritual or ceremony to honor his father.
And then he turned to art. Terasaki's first solo exhibit, "Feeding the Immortals," opens Tuesday at Ravizza Brownfield Gallery, with a creation that resulted from his search for a meaningful response to the loss of his father, Dr. Paul Terasaki. "I am not sure that I believe we can communicate with the dead, but ceremony allows for a gesture that demonstrates reverence," Terasaki, a combined media artist originally from Los Angeles, said in a statement. "I don't believe we deal well with death in this modern culture. I think it's important for us to have some (type of) private ritual that gives us as individuals a way to remember and honor our loved ones."
Mixed-media works, ceramics, photography, video and Terasaki's signature vapor projections- images projected onto a thin layer of vapor-explore the boundary between the spiritual and significance of food offerings as a common ritual across numerous cultures.
ONE OF Terasaki's pieces is a series of display cabinets, each with its (own) unique design, stacked and filled with various vessels holding ceramic re-creations of the tropical fruits and vegetables that grow in his garden. Among them are noni, ginger, and papaya. The piece was inspired by a visit to his in-laws in Kawamoto, Japan, where he observed the family's food offering rituals before an altar in the tatami room. Playing with the concept, Terasaki at attached a cluster of ceramic vegetables to a wheel that visitors can spin, creating "an alchemy" of colors.
Sculptural wall pieces, such as "Candy Stash," pay tribute to his father, who always had candy available for the kids and grandkids, while another honors his daughter's deceased pet rabbit Puff. Another piece, "Circle, Triangle, Square" refers to Zen Priest Sengal Gibon's famous 18th-century ink painting.
Peer into the viewfinder of the black box to find Terasaki's unique vapor images-one features a portrait of Ravizza Brownfield gallery co-owner Cristiano Cairati and another orchid flowers dedicated to the late Honolulu Museum of Art curator Jay Jensen.
"This is water and light, and that's how life started, with water and light, " said Terasaki of the vapor images. "it's just a very ethereal, different dimension that I like to explore."
"Feeding the Immortals" follows other recent works by Terasaki, including "Rebirth" at Ward Warehouse and "Edibles Landscapes for the Trillenium" in the "Contact 3017" exhibition at the Honolulu Museums of Art School gallery. Terasaki serves on the boards (of) the Honolulu Museum of Art and the Honolulu Biennial Foundation. He and his wife, Naoko, co-founded the Art Explorium in Kaimuki.
A COMMUNITY ceremonial performance opening the exhibit will begin at 4:30 p.m. Tuesday in the space next door to the gallery, and will continue throughout the night. It is the culmination of two previous performances- one presided over by Kahuna Ka Uhi Keli'iokalani Makua and the second by Japanese tea master Shigeki Itou, in which family and friends were invited to bring a food reminiscent of a deceased loved one.
Guests are invited to walk down a paper pathway and to make offerings of food in remembrance of loved ones.