Embellished Envelopes

July 29, 2014

Painted envelopes by Mikisaburo Izui, interned at Minidoka

Painted envelopes by Mikisaburo Izui, interned at Minidoka

My decorated envelopes

My decorated envelopes

I was inspired to embellish a couple of plain envelopes with little watercolor sketches after seeing a display of envelopes by Mikisaburo Izui at the Bellevue Arts Museum.  The envelopes were included in an exhibit of arts and crafts created by Japanese Americans in the internment camps of 1942 – 1946.  The exhibit is called“The Art of Gaman.”  The concept of Gaman is “to endure the seemingly unbearable with patience and dignity.”

I am drawn to the Japanese way of imbuing a sense of grace and beauty in everyday, ordinary things.  It takes time and attentiveness and a calm mind, I think, to live in this way.  The exhibit at the Bellevue Arts Museum shows that this sensibility did not break under the unfair and harsh conditions of the internment camps.  The art created during this time was remarkable and inspiring.

On those now rare occasions when I mail a handwritten letter, I plan to take just a little extra time to embellish the envelope with a watercolor sketch.  My small attempt to add a grace note to someone’s day.