Illuminating the Mundane is an exquisitely produced full color book. Artist and workshop leader Billie Ruth Furuichi offers this compilation of her work in silk painting and digital collage, accompanied by original Haiku attuned to the message of each art piece. Color and expression in line and form feeds our right-brain sensibilities of compassion and expansion, while the companion haiku bridge the worlds of imagination and thought. We come away from this book with a renewed sense of fulfillment and hope, remembering the beauty and truth of who we really are and what we came here to do.
Billie Ruth Hopkins Furuichi has an eclectic background that ranges from acting, singing, dancing, and teaching, to technical training design and development. With an early start in the Greater Denver Opera Association children’s chorus, and playing violin in the All City Orchestra, followed by performances with the Bonfiles Theatre, Elitches Summerstock, The Trident Theatre, and folk singing throughout the Denver area, Billie Ruth then traveled to Mexico as a jazz singer and dancer for major TV and stage performances.
After graduating from the University of California in Santa Cruz, and receiving teaching certifications in English and Spanish, Billie Ruth taught high school and performed with the Redwoods Repertory Theatre in Ben Lomond, California. She then spent four years as a technical writer in telephony and microelectronics design. Later, while living on Maui, she developed an original stress-reduction workshop for hotel management. This evolved into a leadership workshop for citizen diplomats and youth ambassador exchanges to the former USSR. In 2003, the Colorado Department of Human Services contracted Billie Ruth to develop and facilitate a decision-making and conflict resolution workshop using her Transformation Wheel™, for a group of 50 youth-at-risk, during their annual conference, A Season of Change.
Billie’s workshop, Breathing Through Walls, became the foundation for her most recent workshop, Anchoring The Light, integrating music, movement meditation and fabric painting. Billie Ruth has also written and produced a musical fable, incorporating decision-making and conflict resolution practices for youth. She is currently teaching at Azalea Middle School in Brookings, Oregon. Billie Ruth has a gift for working with young people, and will soon launch a community youth chorale, Peace Wings, using original inspirational songs.
Bringing grounded educational technology face-to-face with a proactive approach to arts education using role play, music, dance and painting, Billie Ruth believes we can all make a difference, find ways to “Be the Change” as Gandhi said, and help heal the planet.
Billie Ruth is available for workshops, keynote speaking, and one-day seminars. Her topics include:
• Finding Your Peace Wings
• Building Bridges of Love
• Breathing Through Walls
• Anchoring The Light
The images and haiku in this collection represent my own spiritual journey since 1986, which has involved a process of consciously feeding my soul through artistic expression, whether it be dancing, writing poetry, haiku, or painting silk. Living in this mundane day-to-day world, I will shrivel up and die if I shut out the ethereal voices of creativity pleading with me to wake up, honor the needs of my soul, and get back to the process of creating something! When I do not listen – when I forget who I truly am as a spiritual being – when I go to work day after day with my feet getting more and more stuck in the stuff of this world, I suffer from it, whether it’s a cold or a bad back. Yes, it is all too easy to be seduced by mundane daily realities, thinking that we can solve other people’s problems, or watching reality TV to feel comparatively better about our own lives, but seduction means we are asleep – not keeping our eye on the bright light of our own creative soul. Painting silks and writing haiku are among the ways I have kept my light bright. In the process, I can also help to illuminate bits of this mundane world, making it meaningful for me, and I hope for those of you reading this book.
Each image is accompanied by original haiku, capturing the intention as a healing icon. Haiku is a form of Japanese poetry, consisting of three lines which make a metaphorical statement. The first line is an observation or statement about nature, philosophy or spirit in five syllables. The second line unfolds as an implication or an alternative layer of reality, in seven syllables. The third line reveals an epiphany or irony connecting the previous two at a higher level, in five syllables. This structure is mirrored in my haiku creations. My art is abstract and impressionistic in the same way that haiku is a condensed metaphoric expression that carries strong connections to nature and spirit suggesting a visual image. In that way, I think haiku works well symbolically with my artistic style. Traditionally, haiku concerns itself with human emotions rather than human acts, which is also true of my artwork. I think of artistic expression as a bridge and my job is to build that bridge so that the observer can cross it successfully over into my way of perceiving the world. Sometimes it takes both words and images to bring you into my vision. For that reason, I like to include haiku into each art piece. I also use symbols from Japanese Kanji, Greek and Hebrew, as another way of showing how each piece speaks to me. These words and phrases add universality to the meaning – what truths might be embedded there, and why I was guided to paint it.
The first image, Yellow Hibiscus, was my very first silk painting, followed by, Fragrant Meditations, which is one of the most recent digital collages, combining two silk paintings and a photograph of Fuchsias. This juxtaposition demonstrates not only a shift in style and focus, but also my growth as an artist. Seven images that follow are from The Transformation Wheel™, a collection of 3’ x 6’ banners hanging in a circle, like a huge windsock, that I use during my workshops.
The next eight images (10 through 18) are early attempts at digital collage, accomplishing what I had envisioned for years – translucent, intermingled, overlapped layers. I just can’t do that sort of thing with cut and paste collage since actual pieces of fabric didn’t show through one another well enough to accomplish what I had in my mind’s eye. But with digital collage, it all came together. These pieces are the result of playing with new and wonderful technology.
Images 19 through 23 are close-ups of three separate original silk paintings, without enhancement layers. Images 24 through 33 represent the next phase of working with digital collage, incorporating photography by my husband, Isamu, as well as multiple layers. Image number 34, Wise Fish, is a close up of silk paints on bamboo cotton, which I made into a Kaftan blouse. Number 35, Gravity, Escaping, is strictly an afternoon’s doodle on Valentine’s Day this year, using crayons and markers. When I was finished, I realized it expressed my theory about gravity, so using a gold pen, I wrote around the edges using the words I had received in meditation. The final two images are actual silk collages made from pieces of a large work I had used for wallpaper, then tried removing it when we sold our house. They are both enhanced with Japanese Kanji, Greek and Hebrew letterings representing the haiku that appear on the pages beside them.
If you have been attracted to this book, you are most likely an artist or have a soul of the artist within you. It is my belief that we are all artists, and there is some creative creature inside yearning to break loose and express itself. Listen to it! Even natural artists like myself, who have grown up with the freedom to create and support for their creative side, need to prepare for a consciousness shift – where soul can meet Spirit. By that, I mean, preparation to illuminate the mundane through movement and breath. Just because we live in a mundane daily world, doesn’t mean we have to get stuck in it. Silk painting has proven for me, to be a powerful way to awaken me at the deepest level, open my heart chakra, invite Spirit to move into my soul, and express what is inside of me – the Kingdom of Heaven. It’s also a fun way just to release, relax, and simply play. My hope is that you will begin to feel this shift into your own ethereal being, as you thumb through this book and are perhaps inspired to spend some quality time with yourself, writing haiku, painting silk, learning digital collage.
Billie has woven cosmic webs of Truth, love and authentic action at this church. She has blessed us all with her presence and work – kids, parents, and staff.
– Nat Carter, Senior Minister, Unity Church of Denver
Healing vision and intuitive connecting to the heart and spirit that moves us all successfully comes out in Billie’s work. The colors are so vibrantly alive and the marks of her brushes pulse with creative, juicy energy and joy!
– Melyssa Cowles, Santa Cruz Healing Center