The Paper Fan is a piece of art that in its time has been in the presence of princesses, ninjas, and college students. Taking on several roles both in an imaginary and reality. Each experience aging the paper that stretched across bamboo frame. Opening it reveals a water color and ink print covering the face of the fan. Painted is a family of birds before a background of greenery. Fully expanded the width reached to fourteen inches and standing in length at nine inches. Width shrinks drastically down to one and quarter inch when closed. Unlike the length with is virtually untouched, remaining at nine inches.
Surrounding the edges of the fan are tears in paper and chipped shafts. Falsifying the actual age of the fan. Attributed the constant use throughout its time. Overall, the fan gives a sense of calm and delicacy. The origin of provenance reaches across the Pacific Ocean, my father would travel to Japan returning with various Japanese art pieces. Bequeathing me the Paper Fan at the age of eight. Notably, the significance of this piece stems from the calm and still that surrounds the simplistic form. In that calm the Japanese had created a new history was recorded with its woven in heritage.
Paper fan overlapping paper secures around the bamboo frame of eighteen shafts. The line work of the ink is light, fading in out from the design. Outlining become heavier when outlining the figures of the birds pronouncing them from background. Specifically the bold color bird in the most foreground. It bold coloring of plumage makes a sharp contrast from the rest of the subdue coloring of the over water colors. Greenery background a mixture of green and blue. Only contrasting color is the red of the branches Folds of the fan add an illusion to the overall design. Rounding the two baby chicks into a yellow circle formation among the greenery.
The design seems to pull its two dimensionality from Edo period wood prints. Relying solely on faint line work and overlapping of water colors. Shading is not evident in the design aside from ones casted by the folds of paper. Folds of the fan add an interesting contrast to the flat design of the birds. The viewer’s eye roves over the landscaping of the mountain like folds carrying us across the design. Discoloration is notable in the ridges and edging of the paper. Dark, thick marks are apparent on the right hand corner, a traditional watermark. Delicate in the matter of its aging state.
The design says otherwise, powerful as is the blue and red bird providing for its family. The chicks crying out is chaos but all else around them is still and strong. A sense of family born on the paper, remaining strong on the crumbling paper surrounding them. It’s calming to know feel and see that sense of knowing and family. Japanese paintings of sparrows meant happiness. Sensing that happiness in the design the colors have harmony amongst them. None are struggling for the viewer’s full attention. Framing is made of bamboo symbolizing flexibility and resilience. Paper fan if anything but that as it grew with me.
Exploring my full potential as well as its own. The Japanese hand fans are an important symbol throughout Japan. Holding various uses; warriors as a form of weapon, actors and dancers for performances, and children as a toy. Japanese fans are sometimes seemed to be used in religious ceremonies and events. My father going to business in Japan meant going days even weeks without him. His return would mean hearing fantastic adventures and learn their traditions. Many trips back he would bring trinkets and art works. Upon receiving the paper fan it became a constant companion diving into my imaginary worlds with me.
Make believe was almost my constant state of being. The fan was a prop that transform me into any role I could imagine. I was the princess of the castle having tea with her with her royal subjects. Swiftly, I would shape shift into a ninja with weaponized fan. About to go head to head with a faceless foe. My brother and I were fascinated with the concept of good and evil. Dragging my version of utility belt into all of my hero fantasies. Each day brought on a new villain for the fantastic fan girl and her side kick to save the world from. The older I become my fascination with the fan truly never dimmed.
What changed was its new role it took on. Patriots day is the day the fifth graders dressed in colonial wear and learn the ways of our forth fathers. For the young girls of fifth grade it meant tea and the art of the fan, following me into later life. There came a time when this mystical fan shed its powers of transformation. I began to see it in new light. Realizing that I never considered it actual use and beauty. Leaving childhood the Paper Fan fade away from my attention and found itself in desk drawer. Brought out into the light only when the drawer was rummaged through. Once again I needed its assistance to step into a character.
Dancing in the Nutcracker ballet as a Chinese dancer at the age of fourteen. With this dance came mastering dancing in and out of giant fans slicing through the air. In so the fan was released from its wooden prison of art supplies. Relentlessly practicing gracefully managing the fan while moving through air and ground at high speed. I was reminded my love for the elegance and subtle beauty of the Paper fan. I set aside an empty picture frame to house the fan in room. Where it stayed until I moved to University of Arkansas. Immortalized in the frame, though I still find myself snatching it from the wall to begin another fantasy.