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Shodo, or Japanese calligraphy, is not merely an art form, but a way a life complete with its own set of philosophies.

COURTESY PHOTOS - Sora Shodo demonstrating her art outside the Portland Art Museum. The Arts Council of Lake Oswego will open a new exhibit this week, unlike any it has exhibited in the past.

"It is a very different exhibition in that Sora will be doing a performance process with her art," said Robin Krakauer, development and communications director for the Arts Council.

The exhibit is titled Sora Self-Awakening, opening Sept. 27 and continuing through Nov. 15. Lake Oswego resident and Japanese-born Sora practices the ancient Japanese calligraphic discipline of shodo, combining striking and meaningful visual art with entrancing performance. Her performance art is often accompanied by musicians, inspired by nature and her surrounding environment and the energy she feels from audiences.

"I have done shodo from the time was six," she said. "It was practice, practice, practice." About five years ago she started focusing on the bokutensha performance method, studying under the Master Futo Susuki in Japan and Sekko Daigo in Portland. Sora Shodo creates large and small scale pieces using the shodo ancient tradition of Japanese calligraphy.

Shodo, or Japanese calligraphy, is not merely an art form, but a way a life, complete with its own set of philosophies.

"When you perform it is like awakening yourself," Sora said. "What is inside you? Happiness? Light? It involves breathing like yoga and meditation. And the materials all come from nature."

The materials used in shodo are made of simple natural items but are crafted with great care. The materials include ink stones, made of hard slate and shaped into functional designs; sumi ink, made from pine soot mixed with glue binder and dried; kami or paper, made of natural fibers; and fude or brushes, made from many different kinds of animal or human hair and made in many different sizes.

"They can be made of horse hair, sheep or ferret hair, and even feathers can be used," Sora said.

At the opening reception taking place from 5 to 7 p.m. Sept. 27, Sora will give a short introductory performance of her art. Through this performance process she produces a unique artistic expression of a distinct time and place, all in service of the journey of self-awakening — both hers and the audiences.

A second reception will be held from 5 to 7 p.m. Nov. 1, at which she will give a longer performance.

Those wishing to try their hand at creating shodo are invited to sign up for the Drink and Draw event taking place from 6 to 8 p.m. Oct. 24.

"The Drink and Draw event will incorporate the shodo process and attendees will have the opportunity to create calligraphic art on paper as well as a decorative fabric pillow case to take home," said Krakauer. Sora Shodo says shodo calligraphy is more than just creating art; it involves breathing similar to yoga and meditation.

"I wanted to bring the shodo culture to the U.S.," Sora said. "Our natural environment in Lake Oswego is perfect inspiration."

Sora hopes that shodo can inspire people all over the world to express themselves freely and portray their emotions. She will be traveling to Rome, Italy to share Sora Shodo in October.

The exhibit and the Drink and Draw class will be held at the Arts Council of Lake Oswego's ARTspace and Gallery, 510 First St., Lake Oswego. To sign up for the Drink and Draw class visit the Arts Council's website.

To learn more about Sora's art visit sorashodo.com.


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