Akari in Edo period

Emily Ma

What draws us to the warm glow of a flame, the radiance of the hearth? What hospitality does fire offer? For centuries, light sculptures have found delicate interplay, shaping the darkness with glowing light. During the Edo period, from 1803 until 1868, and before Western influences reached Japan, people used to light akari, small flames within sculptural paper lanterns, after sundown. The dark was not something to be afraid of, but a beauty to be let into our homes. An accepting of the darkness was aligned with traditional Japanese concepts and philosophies of the era, finding value in imperfection. Finding inspiration in Edo era Japan, we look to ways to welcome fallibility, allowing ourselves to have one foot in the past while exploring new spaces. We find ourselves studying the transience of light playing within darker spaces, allowing our imaginations to transform the shadows into something new.