I made a new friend that I'd like you to meet. At the anniversary luncheon of the Sogetsu Los Angeles Branch in April this year I sat at the same table as Norma McDonough who was also helping out with the arrangement as a volunteer. Norma is a Los Angeles based art director and web designer. In between the courses I found out that she is a member of the Soho Study Group in San Francisco, a really creative group of students of ikebana master Soho Sakai. Together with three other ikebana enthusiasts Norma is also part of Renka Design Group working together on big projects such as exhibitions. The arrangement pictured here is their latest installation at the Bouquets to Art exhibition at DeYoung Museum in San Francisco, March 2011.
I like the name of the group and the idea of working together. Renka is a collaborative form of ikebana that was introduced to the Sogetsu School by Hiroshi Teshigahara in the 1990s. Inspired by the classical poetry genre renga, wich is a form of linked verse that became the basis for the modern haiku, he created an avant-garde method of ikebana that involves several people. A renka work consists of a series of interdependent arrangements. Since each participant interprets the previous works in the series of arrangements the completed form of the renka ikebana is not known until the last contributor has finished her work. Unlike a joint work, in renka the individual work is created by a single artist. One by one, the participants challenge the given space until the work is completed.
Read more about renka here.