By: Hunter Llenos
In August of last year, Houston was victim to one of the most damaging hurricanes of our time. Today there are so many stories describing the experiences, struggles and underpinnings of the situation Houston sees itself in today with support stretching too thin.
Mari Omori, a college Professor in the art department at Lone Star College-Kingwood, recently gave an interview describing her loss of valuable works of art that she now deems, Ghost work.
“The reason I call them “Ghost Work” is because I no longer have them, but it’s in my (computer) memory, it’s digitally available.”
As she began to recall what happened, it became clear that this was the forethought for many other students on that day.
“I remember not wanting to take the pieces out in the rain to my car, so I thought it would be safer to leave them in the school, (the gallery) I should have put them on top of the piano.”
She brought me to a desk that was standing in front of a giant bookshelf filled with books on varying topics from art to mindfulness.
When I asked about the inspiration behind the lost art, she pulled out one of the giant books she had on the shelf and plopped it heavily on the desk.
She quickly sorted through the pages until she found the page of a work done by her professor and mentor, William Brice.
When asked whether all of her work was inspired by William Bryce she replied,
“No, my work is more project-based, I do a little bit of research. It’s not a copy of the art… and maybe there’s someone making work just like I am doing but inspiration a lot of times will come from my predecessor or colleagues, its an inspiration for me to do better work.”
As she began to show me other works that she was working on throughout her home, I began to feel a sense of her world. A collection of iron bells sit on a plain white table with ancient markings and heads of beasts. A scene in which made me feel more and more hypnotized by her craft.
On the other side of the room lay little bags and seeds strewn across her dinner table, a project she emphasized to me that would take her a lifetime to accomplish.
In courier news font, on the front of the little cloth sacks were stamps of the date of her fall on, “I marked the time by date…April the seventh of this year (2018),” that put her temporarily in a wheelchair.
Stamped on the middle of the pouches was her name in Japanese, “…and here are little symbols, this means harmony, respect, clarity, tranquility or stillness, and I put a seed inside and I’m going to give these away when I’m well… so then you can plant this seed and let it grow.
I kinda like the idea of not holding onto things, distributing, let it go and maybe that is a form of art, not only am I the maker, I’m the distributor.”
Why did you put it in the middle?
“Aesthetic reasons, I think a lot to do with balance and power, because if the red goes on the end it’ll look a little off, but this way it looks like a little heart in the middle.”
“Making art is not just ‘Here’s (an) object so I’m going to paint this,’ it doesn’t work that way.”
Given the year that’s gone by, how you wanted for this to be in part an inspiration for William Brice, what does it mean now looking back?
“I wonder because these are on paper, what if I paint them on canvas but when the medium changes something change too, at this point I haven’t even thought about it because of all the other projects I’m involved in.”
Are you trying to give off a certain feeling in most works?
“For me there is no answer, there is no single answer why I make things. What I want people to experience, I don’t really get it. I don’t know because I’m not the other party, I’m not you so I don’t know, so I’m presenting the work I make based on exploration, research, passion and so on; but the answer is halfway, the viewer has to come halfway to meet me somewhere.”
Professor Mari Omori suffered a lot this past year, but having gone through it, I was happy to hear her excitement at showing and telling me so many other projects she has been working on.
“I lost my work, but almost everyone lost something”
“I noticed that my creative energy was never lost, rather magnified, maybe because I had more time of my own! I have created more works while in recovery. I came up with a range of concepts regarding, loss and discovery, some are titled, “lost and found”.”
And while smiling she was grateful to those who help and still help her along the way.
“You know one thing? I may not feel the same if I were not assisted by so many people, doctors, nurses, my hosts, friends, family members, neighbors etc. from the accident to now, this present moment. I have been grateful for every, each help I received along the way, even from many strangers.”