2020 Masters of Arts in Teaching Thesis Exhibition

Salem State University

Ben Kirk

Somewhere in Namba

Pen and Ink with Watercolor, 8″x6″, 2020

Ben Kirk

Ben Kirk

Masters of Arts in Teaching, 2020

Artist Statement

C1 During the summer of 2019, I found myself in the middle of a mountain, lost in a bamboo forest in Kyoto, Japan. In the span of two hours, walking deeper into the bamboo, I encountered only two other beings; a black cat, and a young Japanese student named Yamanaka. Yamanaka explained to me that there was nothing in the direction I was walking. With a bow, he took on the task of being my guide. For three hours Yamanaka led me through the bamboo, to a path, up a hill. We passed hundreds of small, ancient-looking shrines, and crimson gates. Yamanaka brought me to the top of the mountain to a 600-year-old pillar. At the tip of this pillar was a larger-than-life statue of a fox leaping through the air. We found a bench to rest on. Yamanaka taught me about bugs, and I took out my sketchbook in an attempt to capture our adventure. We shared each other’s company in solitude.

I have always felt a sense of comfort in solitude, and I have always thought of stumbled-upon, empty spaces as personal sanctuaries. This growing series of illustrations are of the sanctuaries I found while getting lost in Japan.

This series is dedicated to Yamanaka. Thank you for sharing my solitude.