WHAT IS KINTSUKUROI?
KINTSUKUROI (also known as Kintsugi) is the ancient Japanese art of repairing broken pottery with molten goldleaf, transforming it into a piece that is considered more beautiful for having been broken. The tributaries of shining gold highlight its uniqueness and resilience.
I’m creating an art book with a series of human Kintsukuroi photographs; surreal, evocative portraiture of subjects with compelling markings and stories. Each image will be a vignette unto itself, inspired by the symbols, archetypes and myths to which the subject feels a connection. To me, Kintsukuroi resonates as a powerful symbol for the process of healing, reintegration and transformation that can take place in a human being after suffering psychological or physical trauma.
I’m blessed beyond measure to have Nina Pak, one of the most gifted photographers in the contemporary art world, aboard for the project and ready to do on location photo shoots!
Nina has over 30 years experience as a professional photographer, wardrobe/hair stylist, and set designer. She has published eleven photography books, numerous magazine and novel covers, editorial spreads and anthology contributions. An expert in Photoshop, Nina is known for her “soul portraits,” capturing a deep and meaningful part of her clients’ inner self. She loves to create fantasy imagery using costumes, accessories and props, building sets or adding backgrounds post production.
“Our lifetimes are one long journey to discover who we are and what we are capable of. Hopefully we learn soon enough to do something good for the world, and to manifest beauty through our art.”
Just a tiny preview of her lush, dreamlike visions:
Before embarking on a career change from the publishing industry to integrative healing therapies, my first true passion was writing. I plan to personally interview and listen extensively to our models in order to best represent them in the written biographies accompanying their photographs. Using their own words and ideas, we will co-create a story that encapsulates their unique journey.
WHY IT MATTERS
The concept of Kintsukuroi is deeply meaningful to me, as I’ve spent most of my life in poor health. I’ve relentlessly searched for solutions and tried to keep hope alive as chronic Lyme disease and complications of a genetic immune disease slowly ravaged my entire body with indescribable pain and robbed me of my ability to move and speak. My healing quest has involved upwards of 70 doctors, hundreds of failed medications, supplements, allopathic, holistic and alternative treatments.
I also required three life threatening abdominal surgeries for an unrelated condition that involved a great deal of rehabilitation. When I was first getting used to the large scar (and eight small surrounding scars) on my abdomen, my prognosis was extremely bad. I was told that all of my organs and bodily systems would likely shut down one by one until my heart eventually gave out. By 2013, at the age of 33, the most prestigious hospitals in the country advised me to simply load myself with morphine and wait to die.
HOW THE KINTSUKUROI BOOK IDEA CAME ABOUT
This advice, while devastating at first, sparked a massive sea change within me. I was overwhelmingly inspired to disencumber myself of those grim predictions and immerse myself in a whole new story: one that allows for hope, and grants my challenging experiences inherent purpose and value, regardless of what my body is doing, or cannot do, at any given time. I refused to simply be branded as a body waiting to expire (and here I am, two years later!). I recognized that I am a soul with an invaluable empathic window into the depths of human suffering; with insatiable curiosity, much to say, creativity to manifest, a deep desire to grow, and boundless love to give. I swore I would rock these scars and never feel ashamed of that which made me who I am. I began to reframe my wounds, reclaim my path, and rejoice in the depth, richness and triumph of being Kintsukuroi…more beautiful for having been broken.
And now, having experienced what this shift in consciousness has done for me, I want to do my best to inspire others to adopt this philosophy for themselves.
Medicine in our culture is reductionist, isolating and often dehumanizing, but by nature we are relational beings. We possess an innate desire to be part of a grand cosmic picture, to contextualize our suffering in a way that illuminates significance and meaning. Our society has gained the technical skills to heal physical wounds, but we’ve lost the context and connection of personal mythology.
THE HEALING POWER OF STORY
During my bedbound years, I kept my spirit alive with a constant influx of information about art, quantum physics, meditation, theories of consciousness, shamanism, archetypes, mythology, depth psychology, narrative therapy, and mind-body-spirit healing practices used around the world. Along the way I learned a great deal about the alchemical power of story. Although we cannot always change the events in our lives, we can change our orientation to them and the narratives we construct that define our relationship to the unchangeable.
Everybody’s scars tell the tale of a mythical Hero’s Journey; a descent into an underworld full of secrets and wisdom. The marks (physical and emotional) we bear that our society deems “imperfect” often commemorate great feats of courage, warrior-like dedication, leaps of personal enlightenment, and miraculous survival stories. The mission of Kintsukuroi is to honor these stories through art and narrative, and encourage people to embrace their own power and agency.
THE BOOK LAYOUT
- A written foreword covering Kintsukuroi’s meaning, mythological/psychospiritual implications, and a brief comparative cross-cultural account of the rituals, history, narratives and perspectives surrounding altered physical appearance.
- A series of full color surreal tableaux: artfully produced photographs of diverse models with compelling physical markings and stories, and a brief biography for each.
I haven’t had my own photo shoot yet, but I did a trial makeup run at home by myself. I only took a couple of cellphone snapshots as examples. To give you smallest inkling of her prowess (not a book excerpt), I sent Nina a low resolution, inadequately sized cellphone photo with no edit suggestions…and shortly after, I received an edit:
Note the thematic representation; how cracks give way to shimmering gold, as if they were a numinous metaphorical hologram of an inner process. The piercing eyes project the fire of an empowered spirit within the body. If she can turn a poor quality selfie into an image that simultaneously communicates and mystifies…imagine what she will do with professional photo shoots!
Accompanying the book is the official website SacredScars.org and the Facebook Community where people can tell their own stories, share, inspire, learn and just BE the unique yet interconnected miracles we all are. Unlike a typical support group, the community is an all-inclusive place to reframe, reclaim and rejoice in the challenges that have shaped us (visible AND invisible). There will be plenty of interesting bonus content posted there, so please join!
We will also have a standard website with galleries, photos and merchandise. Space in the printed book is limited, but on Facebook and the official site, we will give everyone with a story to tell the chance to shine.
WHAT YOUR HELP MEANS
I don’t know what my own body has in store for me, and my healing quest continues. I maintain the belief that I will one day thrive! But in the meantime, it is my greatest wish to use the magic of art and storytelling to engender love, gratitude, joy, empowerment, and appreciation of the inner light we all possess. This is a way for me to reach across the barrier of pain that has sequestered me from the world and deliver a message of beauty, healing and hope. I feel this book will not only be gorgeous and intriguing to look at, but could truly inspire people to consciously re-author their own difficulties in a way that celebrates the transformative jewel of wisdom in every hardship.
WE ARE CURRENTLY TAKING MODEL APPLICATIONS!
If you, or someone you know, has an interesting scar/story and would like to appear in the book, please CLICK HERE for instructions.