The World of Lady M

The World of Lady M

I say I have an active imagination.  Which is true. I do. I say I’m obsessed with the Heian Period of Japanese history. Which is true. I am and have been. I’ve read The Tale of Genji by Murasaki Shikibu countless times in six different translations. I’ve traveled through Japan looking for displays of early Yamato-e, the style of indigenous Japanese painting on paper that depicts the life and aesthetics of Heian life with unique compositional devices and color.

It’s like a parallel reality existing just beyond the rays of daylight.

But that’s not the whole story.  The whole story involves a shadow world that I have difficulty talking or writing about. It’s like a parallel reality existing just beyond the rays of daylight. That shadowy world of patterns, textures, smells, sussurating sounds and elusive light patterns the words of poetry, shapes and forms, flow and dance. If I am lucky and quiet and watchful enough, I can catch something whole and it will flicker into the full light of my consciousness.  If I am attentive and quick, I can capture it with pencil or brush or pen in an image.  If I am attentive and devoted, a fully formed work from The World of Lady M emerges, step by step.

That’s how it really works.  Attention and lots of magic.



Me and Lady M

If you’ve ever longed for more clout in your world, wished you had the face that everyone else coveted and used makeup to have. If you’ve ever longed for the confidence of Royalty, wanted to see yourself and your loved ones as the dominant image around you, I think you’ll relate to my story about me and Lady M.

Growing up on a farm on the Central California Coast, my imagination conjured a world of elegance, color, and refinement. I imagined long trailing gowns which I created out of weeping willow branches tucked into the belt of my jeans. I delighted in the weight and sound as they dragged after me in  the dirt pathways of the family vegetable garden.

When I discovered the Heian Period (900-1100 AD) of Japanese history, I found that world made real.  Not only did the aesthetic I imagined spring to life, there was a heroine who called to my heart: Lady Murasaki Shikibu (my Lady M), who wrote the world’s first novel, Tale of Genji. Who was a habitue of the Empress Suiko’s court, a poet, literate in both vernacular Japanese and Chinese which women were not supposed to know, and a keen observer of  her surroundings and the people in it.

The world’s first novel, “Tale of Genji”

In her, I came face to face with Female Empowerment embodied in the classical Japanese face.  Not only that, her face was the face of my family, our family friends and a way to bring those faces I love into our Western European based culture. Her face, her world, her aesthetic gave form to a sense of Royalty, of dominion. A sense sadly lacking to us Japanese Americans in a dominant culture that saw us as gardeners, dormitory cleaning women, prostitutes and evil, scheming men.

So my World of Lady M came to be.

What kind of world are you conjuring? Please share in the comment section.