Supporting Group - Fine Work (Japan)
“The Declaration of Maris Released from Contemporary Art”
Setagaya Ward, Tokyo Contemporary artist
Riku Takahashi (52-years old, female)

I am a contemporary artist who expresses discover of new values as art. After graduating from a university of fine arts, I created various experimental works of art. In 2009, I happened to discover a method that enabled both people with total blindness and sighted people to appreciate paintings together and named it Maris. By making sand grain sizes correspond with color density, even people with total blindness can touch the paintings by fingers and see the paintings. I am now conducting activities of both Maris painting production and art projects. I have a dream to deliver Maris paintings to finger tips of children learning at schools for the visually impaired throughout the world.
My father lost sight in one eye when he was three years old and at age 64, he was sentenced to a total blindness and three months later, he ended his own life. From the cradle, I had been frequently told, “Your daddy will lose his sight someday.”
“What would be to lose our sight? What would it be that we cannot walk if we are unable to see?” which my father told me. On the way back home on the day when I entered a nursery school, I was curious about the rubber band of my new cap which was hitched on my chin to prevent the cap from flying away, and got it on my face like a mask. I could only see a small amount of pale orange light that came through the cap. With gentle light, I even felt comfort of some kind of relief. It might be close to my memory when I was a fetus. I tried to walk five to six steps, and I could walk naturally. I could figure out which way to go by the voice of my friends. “I can walk normally. It’s okay. I’ll walk more.” I began to enjoy this new sensation and I walked further a few steps with determination to keep walking up to my home. The next moment, my body floated gently and then tossed against a flat concrete plane with cold water. Due to sudden shock, I did not feel any pain for the first time, but gradually, pains were chasing me. I hurried to take off the cap and watched around. I was surrounded with gray, dirty and wet concrete, and I did not know in which direction I was facing. A blue sky entered in my eyes, and I recovered my position, telling myself that the top was this way and the bottom was this way. I thought as if I was instantaneously transported to an unknown world. Both my skirt and underwear were all wet, hands and legs were abraded and bleeding.
I crawled out by myself and realized that I fell into a small irrigation ditch along the road. More than that, what was a great problem for a child of that age was that I was accused of having wetted my pants because my skirt was all wet. Immediately after entering nursery school, for two years to come, I might be kept called pee-pants. I held back my tears, though I wanted to burst out crying loud, and rushed home as hard as I could without saying anything, with care to prevent my friends from having any suspicion and from jazzing up. When I got home, I immediately changed clothes and pretended nothing happened. On that day, neither my father nor my mother knew what occurred, but for me at the age five, it was the day when I ventured to learn a matter of course with my painful body and soul “to think of things on the standpoint of other people” through taking the risk of getting scratches and the nickname of pee-pants.

Before my dearest father in the world died, he told me “I do not know how I could live when I lost my sight.” Encountering with the organization of National Council of the Homes for the Aged Blind Japan while I was painting Maris which even the people with total blind can enjoy scooped up my fear in the bottom of my heart. I felt something from the people of the ages probably same as my father if he still lived. I felt that humans could approach to the deep truth of things and their hearts could get freed when various parts of their body become impaired.
In 2015, on May 7, on the birthday of my deceased father, I announced to the public the declaration of Maris. On the whole background of one bright red poppy, which I am now drawing, a zinc plate with the statement of declaration in English Braille is pasted. I might be presumptuous enough to say but may I propose to build one home each for one country in the world, where visually impaired children can see Maris painting I and other artists draw, sites of work are created for visually impaired adults, and visually impaired people over 45 years old could live safety? I am certain that while these activities are being continued, there would be many things which a large number of sighted people would become aware of from the visually impaired people.
“One cares about others.” This is very simple, but this could be put into practice only by the people who could conquer themselves. Across the presence or the absence of vision, many people could learn more about courage and warmth of humans from the presence of visually impaired people. And I firmly believe that someday, on its extension, a mind of thinking of the people of other countries would be cultured, rings of caring heart would expand, and they would be connected to the world peace.


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