HORSE EMA ACRYLICS ON CEDAR W/RED OAK FRAME GARY & LEIGH GIOVANE SPRING 2015
I have recently been reading about Japanese Folk art and the Mingei Movement, which correspond philosophically with the Arts & Crafts Movement of Britain and the U.S. Ever since I painted my Eagle Ema earlier this year, I have run across many more examples of Japanese ema, and they continue to catch my interest. I discovered that the Japanese word ema literally means “horse picture”, and that ema are painted wooden plaques offered in prayer at Shinto shrines throughout Japan (at one time actual horses were presented as offerings, but were eventually replaced by painted plaques). This fact presented itself as a perfect opportunity to collaborate with Leigh in designing a horse ema for my next project. Leigh is our “horse expert” and has done wonderful pencil sketches of horses. Leigh drew the outline of the horse for the bottom panel, and then I transformed it into my Northwest Coast-Celtic style. She also helped with other design suggestions and advice. The Latin inscription “caeli mutant” means “the heavens change” and represents the three forms of weather shown in the top panel: sun, cloud, and rain. Leigh’s constant prayer in the spring and fall is for accurate weather predictions in order to know whether or not to blanket her horse! The design for the frame came from an example of a contemporary Japanese ema in the shape of a shrine or temple. I made the frame out of red oak using pegged, hand-joined, mortise-and-tenon construction methods. I used the Japanese technique (shou-sugi-ban) of charring and oiling the oak to finish the frame.