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"Visions of China" Art Show brings feeling to the canvas

By: Kenny Ehman

Date Posted: 1998-05-16

"Visions of China" is the title of the latest art exhibition being shown at Hirakawa Bakery's mini-art gallery. The beautiful paintings are the work of Dr. Joyce Trafton Ph.D., a local artist originally from Toronto, Canada. Inspired by a trip to China last year, Trafton started to put her experiences and feelings from the places she visited on canvas. Her paintings capture the mystical images that shroud China, and each painting carries a different mood. "I found the mist and the haze very intriguing. The land was always very bright, despite all the mist and darkness above. It was if the light was filtering through from the land below," explained Trafton. The artist's work does indeed depict a mixture of melancholy with that of majestic beauty.

Trafton's mixture of Eastern and Western styles also gives some insight into the "Visions of China" Art Show. She often draws experiences from both areas in her work, and she puts much emphasis on "connecting the subject with the technique," she said.

Working as an artist, and as a teacher of art for over thirty years, Trafton allows many of her background influences to come through in her work. "You have to be able to take a chance. I'm not afraid to try something new on the canvas," she said. "Somewhere a long the line you get a painting that works - it becomes the feeling I wanted," further explained Trafton. She enjoys working with many different mediums, and does not try to focus on just one style of art. The results are often very new and original. "I have been doing art all of my life. I like oils, illustrations, and pottery very much, but I have no one particular style."

Trafton enjoys teaching art just as much as painting for herself. "I think that teaching and doing art go together." She has taught students at all education levels, including ten years of teaching at the University level. "I think art is very important for kids. It lets them express themselves, and we can learn many things about a child from those messages of expression," said Trafton. She has also given many seminars and workshops, and she has experience in working with handicapped children. She recently worked with the Okinawa Prefecture Department of Education on trying to introduce new teaching methods into the school system, and she believes art to be a very important part of any education system. "I try to get my students to use their creativeness. I always tell my students that you don't have to like something, but you can learn to appreciate it," she explained. Trafton brings her love for many different techniques with her into the classroom, believing that in order to expand one's mind, it is important to be exposed to many different styles. She feels her experiences with many different art techniques is an advantage to have when teaching. "In order to be a good teacher, you need to be broad minded. I believe that feeling is very important. I try to get my students to paint what they feel," she said. "You have to be connected to what you're painting. If you are going to paint the Eiffel Tower, it's important to have been there to capture the feeling."

Trafton is also very involved with the Okinawan community. She first came to the island in 1987, and has been living here as a permanent resident with her husband since 1993. Trafton has volunteered as an art instructor and lecturer at the Morikawa Hospital for Children with Muscular Dystrophy. She was the main organizer for the Connection's Art Show earlier this year, which brought together local and American Artists, and also featured the work of two handicapped artists, Naoto Kadekaru and Noboru Shinmon. She is very knowledgeable about Okinawan culture and religion, and currently teaches a class on "Okinawan Ancestor Worship" at the University of Maryland. She has worked together with Dr. Masaharu Matayoshi to publish an upcoming book on the same subject. Trafton has many outstanding credits to her name, but she is one of the nicest and humblest people you will ever meet.

Trafton's "Visions of China" Art Show gives any lover of art a great opportunity to see some fantastic work. And, the Hirakawa Bakery offers a very pleasant setting to do so. The owner, Soshin Hirakawa, is also an artist, and his bakery has been making delicious cakes and desserts for the past twenty years. Entrance to the mini-gallery is for free, but be sure to relax with a cup of coffee and a piece of cake, while you enjoy Trafton's paintings. The Hirakawa Bakery holds an art show every month, so you can visit anytime. To get there, go straight from Gate 2 Street and cross over Route 329. The bakery is on your right, next to the "Atom Boy" sushi shop. "Visions of China" will be on display until the end of May with paintings changing throughout the month. The Hirakawa Bakery is open from 9 am until 9 pm everyday. For more information, please call 935-5579.

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