Thursday, June 11, 2015

Japan Bound: Time Capsule Opening

The plaque that commemorates the location of the time capsule.
Kate, known to me as Grandma Kate, arrived in Sendai, Japan on Tuesday and was greeted at the airport by a rare rain, her homestay family from 17 years ago and myself. After slurping through mountains of cold soba (buckwheat noodles) we returned to home base, where we recharged. Jetlagged brain + inundation of the Japanese language = rest required.

The homestay family: Chizuko and Kouichi, and their daughter, Maiko, with Kate and me.
But there’s no moss growing on this baachan (grandma). Amidst the jetlag and exhaustion, we planned and gathered thoughts for a meeting at Tohoku International School (TIS) and “Grape City” – a playfully named company that is connected to many of the project partners.

Her first night here we were treated to an impromptu performance by a lively neighbor who stopped by. She specializes in Japanese kids songs and didn’t hold back when we requested a demonstration. I recognized the classics and joined in.

While we were singing and chatting, Chizuko’s husband, Koichi, worked on dinner. 

Stir-frying up a storm.
Over the past few days we’ve connected with school staff who will help to connect current students to the project, as well as corporate partners who are helping to orchestrate the time capsule opening ceremony. We finally got everything settled for the ceremony, so now it’s time to invite people who contributed artwork 17 years ago and spread the word!

Connecting with Tohoku International (TIS) staff in person and remotely.

Chizuko, Kate and the headmaster’s assistant, Kawaguchi san, at TIS.

Talking in the shade of the HIMEGURI sculpture with Mitsubishi project partners.

Kate and Chizuko admiring the rocks that lead to the sundial.

Angela Robins lives in Minneapolis, Minnesota, and you can learn about her work building a traditional boat in Japan at:

Sunday, June 7, 2015


On June 4 we opened the time capsule inside the sculpture SOLEKKO at Norsk Teknisk Museum in Oslo. It was 19 years ago that Solekko was built and installed at the museum.

Photo credit Mimsy Moller

Removing the stainless steel cone protecting the capsule inside.
Photo credit Mimsy Moller

In June of 1996, during a residency at the museum, I worked with ten and eleven year old children to make art work at the museum. We filled the capsule with their artwork and that of children from Quebec, CA and from Vermont and Hawaii, USA.

Around fifty of these "children" were present and eagerly scrambled to find their artwork on the table.

Photo credit Mimsy Moller

One young woman showed me a drawing of a small animal hidden in tall grass. "He was my friend but he killed himself when he was seventeen".

Other stories are happy ones. "This one was done by the son of the mayor of Oslo; he now loves with his heiress wife in Bergen."

And the granddaughter of famous Norwegian playwright and illustrator Egner Thornbjorn had drawn a picture of happy animals and birds living in nature very similar to her grandfather's illustrations.

Included with the drawings were clay artifacts. Some were made at the museum workshops and others at Milton and Essex, Vermont schools.

The small clay pieces and drawings are part of an exhibit at the museum now and will be safely included in their archives later on.

Norwegian Sculpture Projects

As the World Sculpture Project connects people and cultures with five sculptures around the world, the following projects commemorate and connect people in other unique ways.

Photo journalist Mimsy Moller takes a picture of Nico Widerberg's sculpture commemorating  the terrorist attack in Oslo in 2011.

Children had come from all over Norway to attend a summer camp on the island where the attack occurred.

Widerberg is installing an exact replica of the sculpture in each of the regions around Norway from which children came who were killed.

If the regions have approved having a sculpture, over fifty pieces could be installed throughout Norway.

German artist commentates Jews who were deported to Auschwitz from Norway during World War II.

German sculptor Gunther Demning explains his project to photographer Mimsy Moller before installing seven cubes topped with brass inscribed with names in front of a new Starbucks cafe in Oslo.

To the left is the director of the Holocaust Center in Oslo, Gunter Demning and the two owners of the Starbucks cafe. There were no survivors of the Jewish people who lived inside the building.


Next, I will be in Sendai, Japan.

The sponsor of HIMEGURI sculpture, Mitsubishi Estate Company, will host the opening of the time capsule buried in the ground near the sculpture.

My granddaughter Angela Robins will be with me beginning June 9 for four days translating Japanese during meetings and generally helping me as I adjust to the new time zone. How very fortunate I will be to have her with me!