Originally uploaded by SOFennell

A few years ago I went to Washington D.C. for the weekend and at one point wound up looking at a huge Robert Rauschenberg collage that contained a full sized, antique, black koinobori. I would love to have been able to take a picture of it, but there was a guard standing nearby….I loved that collage. It was the fish, of course, that really attracted me.

When I was probably in elementary school when my dad came home one day with 2 full sized koinobori. He found a thick, tall bamboo pole, rigged up a pulley, and and raised them so high they could be seen over the rooftop of our 2-story house (this was in Kagoshima). They were being flown in honor of my two younger brothers for Boys Day. This didn’t happen every year and subsequently, they may have ended up in our attic until my parents found someone to give them to. Today, I am still attracted to their color, patterning and the idea that you can fill the landscape with things like that.

Lately, when I do my Gyotaku workshops or residencies, I find my mind wandering to these other fish. So, today I played around (on a first go-round) with the idea using materials a kid might: cotton and Crayola fabric markers.

I found the markers much more like using a crayon, almost. They were really more like paint in consistency and would work well enough in a classroom situation (which is the idea). In mid-August I will participate in the Artists In School art fest and will definitely take a few with me.


4 Responses to “Koinobori”

  1. shiborigirl Says:

    i have a great (out of print) book on japanese kites that you would love. it has some great kites as well as interviews with some of the old master artisans. I’ll have to scan a few pics and post them here after the show-

    love what you are doing here.

  2. jude Says:

    great clean graphics with those markers. i have some pics somewhere too, forget where i got them….now to find them.

    • Susan Says:

      Yes, they are that…I think I’m going to try some other kinds as well. These do work well, but there’s something about them that reminds me of crayons! I’ve had the kids use them with stencils previously and got real good results.

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