What We Wrote on the Water

Maternal Mitochondria has a new art show up with Vital Spaces arts organization! Located in the Midtown Annex, 1600 St. Michaels Drive, and available by appointment only (in order to ensure COVID-safe practices), What We Wrote on The Water is a video installation constructed from the poetry of borders, drumming in a dream, the scarce commodity of water in the desert, and gestures in ink. The installation will be available to experience from January 9th-February 8th, and there is no fee!

In a dark enclosed womb of space, the video projects over a large vase, filled with water. It features the Japanese art of suminagashi, spoken poetry, and percussive drums. The projection overlaps the glass, creating new shadows and reflections. This is an immersive experience, playing with materials such as ink and glass, and the metaphor of water as the unconscious mind.

What We Wrote on the Water explores the dialectical flow between creator and viewer, form and meaning, being both on the surface of the water and under it. The viewer leaves refreshed, having temporarily been elsewhere.

FOR APPOINTMENTS: From January 9th-February 8th, please call Isabel at 505-231-1922 or e-mail Miriam at msagan1035@aol.com.

installation art featuring poetry, suminagashi, water, glass, and drumming.

Maternal Mitochondria is a mother-daughter creative duo collaborating in Santa Fe. Miriam Sagan is a writer and Isabel Winson-Sagan is an interdisciplinary artist. Their bilingual video installation of suminagashi and poetry, Thresh/hold, premiered in an abandoned square grain silo at Studio Kura in Itoshima, Japan in 2018. They produced a poetry and suminagashi installation in Santa Fe’s Railyard Park with more than twenty participants, aged 4 to 80. The walking path at Santa Fe Skies RV Park on Route 14 is host to their Fairy Houses installation in recycled metal, which has had numerous visitors during the pandemic. For What We Wrote on the Water, they have also collaborated with local drummer Tim Brown.

Suminagashi ink paintings for sale!

20″ x 30″ (unframed size, price is for framed)

$400 each

As part of an initiative to shop local this holiday season, I am offering these pieces through the virtual “String of Lights” Holiday Market. I am a local artist in Santa Fe, utilizing a modern take on an old Japanese technique called suminagashi to craft unique, large-scale ink paintings. They are on archival paper and professionally framed. For any questions, please e-mail me at ws.isabel@yahoo.com, and check out the rest of my portfolio at www.isabelws.com!

Catch of the Day

Some relief printmaking I’ve been noodling around with! This is a 3 color reduction print on linoleum. The design is based on an 14th century Arab manuscript, depicting a Pisces sign in honor of my daughter.

Book Arts Group of Santa Fe

Join Maternal Mitochondria for a presentation on June 8th, from 1-3pm, in the Santa Fe Community College Boardroom. We will be speaking to the members of the Santa Fe Book Arts Group about our collaborative work, community projects, and how and why we utilize suminagashi along with poetry in our art. This event is free and open to the public, you do not have to be a member of BAG to come! We look forward to seeing you there.

Japan Fest

Come join us for the 2019 Santa Fe Japanese Cultural Festival!

When: 11am-3pm, May 11th, 2019.

Where: Santa Fe Convention Center

Maternal Mitochondria will be at this year’s Japanese Cultural Festival! Catch us on Saturday, May 11th at the Santa Fe Convention Center. We’ll be doing a demonstration/workshop combo on the Japanese art of suminagashi, or ink painting. There will also be lots of performances, vendors, and Japanese food! Maternal Mitochondria will be there from 11am-3pm, but the festival itself runs from 9:30am-5pm. Admission is $5 for adults, and free for children under 12. Visit the website for more information.

Souvenir- a sculpture

When Maternal Mitochondria was asked by a gallery for an artist’s book, we did not have one on hand. Our work over the past year has been mostly ephemeral installation in public spaces. But we were intrigued. After all, we often combine suminagashi and text.

We are not traditional book artists so we decided to play with the form of a book– keeping the interactive and narrative elements, and evoking the sense of wonder that comes from opening a volume for the first time. A box, like a book, holds the unknown. Working with sculptural elements instead of a traditional printed book gave us the opportunity for the narrative to be carried through to the outside form, offering a tactile experience that serves as a link to memory.

The poem came first. It is 36 stanzas of linked verse, in the tradition of the Japanese renga. As a homage to its origins, the renga opens with our translation of Basho. In addition, this renga is divided into thematic sections which include travel, home, the Gothic, astronomy, and the seasons.
We wrote it collaboratively over a two day period, alternating stanzas or links. Each section of poetry responds to the previous one, both reflecting it and breaking away on its own. The sculptural element can be viewed as the first and last stanza in the poem, or even a kind of shadow that tags along, something that stays with the viewer while they are engaged with the text.

The text was then printed on to two decks of 18 cards each. The cards follow the poem, and include suminagashi done in the traditional approach with black ink.
The box is collaged with Japanese paper. It references boxes of cake found everywhere in Japanese train stations. The treat is taken home to share and the box serves as a memento.

The title “Souvenir” evokes both memory and immediacy. How do we perceive and express the moment? Can that expression also be what reminds us of where we’ve been?

The poem was written collaboratively by Miriam and Isabel. Concept by Miriam. Fabrication including printing, design, suminagashi, and collage by Isabel.

How fun!
this spring, again
the traveler’s song
-Basho

songbird’s tiny egg
in chicken yard

under a cactus
psychedelic desert
skull, gently resting

a lizard
on petrified wood

four planets
hang brightly at dusk—
red lampshade

the door propped open
crickets chirp in the moon

Milky Way
separates the lovers,
you take my hand

waiting for the dawn
on the roof, trespassing

children move rocks
in the arroyo,
chamisa blooms

wish upon a penny
an eyelash, a sidewalk crack

woman in white
stares at us through the window
glowing red eyes

the grownups won’t believe us—
pinky swearing our secret

river
wears the canyon down
as time does me

a mushroom peaks through the snow,
no fairy rings this time

vast caverns
the drip drip
of patient water

cracks run through the earth
like memories, like words

too hot too soon
we sleep with windows open,
edge of the bed

wedding guests
chat about divorce

love in Ohio
spring storms, trees and wires
litter the streets

gentle rain
open mouthed kiss

black dog
under the truck, shadow
in the shade

traveling across my land
coyotes eat the berries

snail
leave me some lettuce
please

a bull snake in the tree
is carefully relocated

is that
a woman wailing
or just the wind?

an old story
to scare bad children

a fox cooks udon
in mist, only the hungry
can find him

the witch’s house
turns on chicken legs

New Year’s day
everyone on the train
is going home

a single pink mochi cake
a celebration

the kami return
to the mountains,
cranes start flying

huddled in the kitchen
sustained by hot tea

a stranger
In a strange land
the rabbit’s ear twitches

car radios’ oldies
aren’t old enough for me

going nowhere fast
I feel limitless
who are you?

just another pilgrim
staff blooming in spring.

text on suminagashi, reads- love in Ohio/spring storms, trees and wires/litter the streets

Photographs by Matthew Morrow