Suzan Perry, Zen Brush Artist
Susan Perry at the Rancho Cucamonga Library Foundation Asian Festival; May, 2018.
It was around 1990 – when I was twelve years into my Aikido practice – that my interest in Japanese Zen calligraphy was awakened by two Zen monk friends: Kazuaki Tanahashi and John Stevens, two notable Zen students, artists and authors. Then, since 2005, I have supplemented my Zen brush practice with a formal study in Classical Japanese brushwork working through Japanese teachers here in California who were affiliated with Nihon Shuji, a Japanese Shodo organization. During this time and until my teacher moved back to Japan, I have been awarded with a Godan in Kanji and a Nidan in Kana.
Since 2017 Susan has been actively showing her artwork in over 20 different exhibits as well as teaching brushwork classes and demonstrating big brush over the years. She has won awards through juried exhibits hosted by the Artists Association of the Inland Empire (AAIE) and the Pomona Valley Artists Association (PVAA) for her artwork, including a first place ribbon in 2017 at the PVAA monthly show.
The re-creation of the self occurs most with age and barriers. Like water moving around a large rock, we embrace change to continue to move forward. The result is many life stories: I have had a few from mother and wife to magazine Editor-in-Chief and philosophy professor. Now I am enjoying my life as a Zen Brush artist and teacher of Aikido. Asked what I am I say “I am a lover of the beauty of natural movement;” this is one important thing that continues to be a part of me. The beauty of nature provides me with both a philosophical understanding of life as well as a spiritual framework by which to live.
Trained in many artistic mediums as a young girl, nothing really grabbed me until I was introduced to Zen brushwork. This is a particular form of brushwork which has no form - the form of no form. Zen brushwork rests upon the movement of the artist’s breath, a natural whole body breath coming in from the earth through your feet and connecting you to all that is. So, a good Zen Brush piece will express the beauty of nature as it travels barrier free from the artist’s feet through the body and out the brush. Before I pick up the brush I take a breath and clear out the day’s stresses. Often a finished piece is made with one stroke, one breath - simple, but not easy. The versatility of the brush enables the artist to express life in a stroke. It is a brush with life.