Glass Castle of Intellect
For all of October, OIST is exhibiting a collection of Okinawan glass artist Seikchiki Inamine’s latest work, “Ocean.” “Mr. Seikichi Inamine enjoys an international reputation as a highly creative and innovative artist whose extraordinary technical skill is equally matched by his ability to create exceptional pieces of art,” said OIST President, Jonathan Dorfan. “OIST Graduate University is honored to host an exhibition of Mr. Inamine’s beautiful glass art.”
Five years after glass artist Mr. Inamine was born in Naha, the Battle of Okinawa, one of the largest assaults during World War II, left the Ryukyu Islands destroyed and impoverished. With no means of obtaining raw materials, glassmakers upheld their traditions by melting down discarded soda and alcohol bottles left behind by soldiers after the war. Using recycled materials caused bubbles to form in the glass, however, which many commercial glassmakers deemed unwanted imperfections. In 1972, when the United States returned Okinawa to Japan, raw materials again became readily available and the more eco-friendly alternative faded into to the past.
But not for Mr. Inamine. After spending years learning the trade in commercial glass factories, he became disenchanted with the repetitiveness of producing one perfect glass after the other for the sole purpose of tourism. He missed the imperfections caused by using discarded bottles, so in 1988 he opened a studio in the Yomitan Pottery Village called Mid-air Glass Blowing Studio Rainbow to pursue his own work.
At first his bubble-infused glass didn’t attract buyers, but a few years later the public began to catch on. In 1994 he was designated one of Japan’s Contemporary Master Craftsmen. This award has become one of many, including recognition from museums and artistic councils in Italy, Sweden, China and Greece.
Since the October 4th opening of his exhibit coincided with the Board of Governors meetings, Mr. Inamine and BOG members including Nobel Laureates Jerome Friedman, Yuan Tseh Lee and Torsten Wiesel spent the evening celebrating at the vernissage together. It’s not everyday that notable artists and scientists comingle, but here at OIST that exactly the kind of thing that’s expected. In the words of Mr. Inamine himself, “I sincerely wish that the lively and young minds at your university, which is a castle of intellect, will break ground for the future, furthering the progress of science, culture, and art towards peace.”