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Woodblock Prints
&
Tanka Poetry

Suezan Aikins

Simply Haiku
September-October 2004


Suezan Aikins is a printmaker, painter, sculptor, and Japanese short-form poet. Born in 1952, she resides in Nova Scotia, Canada. She attended numerous colleges, listed in the resume at her website link below. In addition, she studied at the Yoshida Woodblock Print Studio in Tokyo. A list of solo and group shows, awards and honors, publications and broadcasts, and corporate and private collections is available on her website: http://www.suezan-aikins.com/index.html

For twenty-five years, Suezan has spent more and more time on each woodblock. Lately it takes her most of a year to design, carve, and then proof the print with husband and printer, Sam Rogers. It's a lengthy process for Sam who prints up to 40 layers of color, from 10 or more carved blocks, onto each print in the edition. They both feel that the meditative discipline required has been good for the soul!

Suezan finds the materials seductive, from the pure natural pigments, handmade papers bleached in cold mountain streams, and honed edges of Japanese steel, to the glowing surface of the wood. She and Sam depend entirely on traditional craftsmen who have been refining their skills for many generations as the knife makers, the wood block planers, the brush maker, the baren makers, and the papermakers. The knives, for instance, were specially forged for her by Shimizu Hamanoten, knife makers for over 500 years. The papermakers, Yamaguchi Sojiro and Kinuko, inherited skills passed down in their paper making families during a millennium of making the imperial families' paper. It has been very inspiring for Suezan and Sam!

The alchemy of pigment, paper and water this technique offers has enriched Suezan's painting explorations. The fascination with the expressive energy in each wood grain has led to a growing series of carved gold leaf paintings and mixed media reliefs.