The Art & Studio of Ara J. Berberian
My work is deeply rooted in a profound appreciation for nature, craftsmanship, social commentary, whimsy and perhaps most notably, Japanese aesthetic philosophy through my time studying traditional arts in Japan.
Wabi-Sabi, the acceptance of transience and imperfection, aligns with my view of beauty and meaning in the unconventional and mysterious. This philosophy became a cornerstone of my artistic expression, guiding my approach to materials and concepts. Embracing the principles of wabi-sabi tactically, I celebrate the natural interplay between the traditional Japanese architectural technique yakisugi, literally meaning “roasted cedar” and the various rusted metal objects and other found materials in my work.
These forsaken rusted metal objects, which I carefully select and incorporate into my creations, are given a new role in stories that speak to the nature of things and the human condition. And the yakisugi embodies the idea that all organic matter, even the body of man, is destined to become simple coal as part of the natural cycle of death and rebirth as carbon-based life forms. The yakisugi therefore serves as both the canvas upon which the stories unfold and a protagonist within them. The charred wood, with its deep, rich textures and enigmatic patterns, becomes an active participant in the creative narratives.
The studio itself is a spiritual partner, blending reclaimed 19th century barn wood with contemporary architecture. The building was designed and built by my late father, the leading bass opera singer and noted environmentalist, Ara Berberian. It is situated where the Rouge and Franklin rivers join at the gateway of the Berberian Woods Nature Preserve in Oakland County, Michigan.