Setsuko Winchester: Freedom from Fear — The Yellow Bowl Project 

Setsuko Winchester, Artist/Ceramist/Photographer. Photo: Simon Winchester

SUZE BIENAIMEE: Meet Setsuko Winchester, creator the Yellow Bowl Project as a statement about “Freedom from Fear”. She is American-Japanese, a former National Public Radio (NPR) journalist and an artist/ceramist/photographer.

I find her Yellow Bowl Project very important because it brings to light a dark time in the history of the United States of America — hopefully it will never be repeated.

Welcome to StudioSeeds, Setsuko. What is The Yellow Bowl Project and what inspired you?

SETSUKO WINCHESTER: The Yellow Bowl Project is to remember and bring attention to a time during World War II (WWII) when the US government sponsored a program of forcible removal of a portion of the American-Japanese population from their homes and incarcerated them in internment camps.

Freedom from Fear — Yellow Bowl Project at American-Japanese Internment Camp, Jerome, Arkansas. Photo: Setsuko Winchester

I wanted to bring attention to the internment because ethnic differences in our US population led to the assumption of a threat to the United States and I decided to express myself using something I love that brings me great joy: ceramics. Ceramics is part of your blood if you are Japanese. There is a pot for every kind of food and every occasion in your life.

For The Yellow Bowl Project I made one hundred-twenty bowls and each represents one thousand individuals who were incarcerated. I glazed them every shade of bright yellow and the yellow represents the “Yellow Peril”, meaning fear of Japanese as it was expressed.

The Yellow Bowl Project at Gila River, Arizona, (technically on sovereign land of the Gila River Indian Community). Photo: Setsuko Winchester
Freedom from Fear — The Yellow Bowl Project at Gila River, Arizona, American-Japanese Internment Camp (technically on sovereign land of the Gila River Indian Community). Photo: Setsuko Winchester

My goal was to visit and photograph the bowls at each of the ten internment camps. I have now completed that goal.

Freedom from Fear — Yellow Bowl Project at Amache, Colorado, American-Japanese Internment Camp (considered on of the most humane of all the camps). Photo: Setsuko Winchester
Freedom from Fear —  Yellow Bowl Project at the Topaz, Utah, American – Japanese Internment Camp, Topaz, Utah (Block 29, the Church). Photo: Setsuko Winchester

In addition to the camps, I have arranged and photographed the bowls at other places connected to the concept of “Freedom from Fear” which I call “Iconic American Landscapes”: Four Freedoms Park, Roosevelt Island, New York; Four Freedoms Rotunda at the Norman Rockwell Museum, Stockbridge, Massachusetts; the steps of the United States Supreme Court, Washington, DC; the Memorial to Japanese American Patriotism, Washington DC; the FDR Library, Hyde Park, New York.

Freedom from Fear —  Yellow Bowl Project on the Steps of the Supreme Court, Washington, DC. Photo: Setsuko Winchester
Freedom from Fear —  Yellow Bowl Project Four Freedoms Park, Roosevelt Island, New York. Photo: Setsuko Winchester

By exposing these places of “fear” we can finally exorcise the shame and guilt and move forward rather than blame the victim or shame the oppressors. In other words, I hope we will always remember and try to forgive.

SUZE BIENAIMEE: Setsuko, well said — thank you for reminding us of the importance of remembering and forgiving as well as bringing a tragic time in US history to light; that kind of violation of basic human rights by either individuals or the government of the United States of America must never happen again.

Again, thank you so much for coming to StudioSeeds. I know my readers will find your Freedom from Fear — Yellow Bowl Project very important.

Please connect with Setsuko Winchester in the COMMENTS section for the post.

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MORE INFORMATION Setsuko Winchester’s website and blog.

Contact Setsuko Winchester — be sure to mention StudioSeeds. Source for information about World War II incarceration of American-Japanese.

Farewell to Manzanar by Jeanne Wakatsuki Houston is the true story of one spirited Japanese American family’s attempt to survive the indignities of forced detention . . . and of a native-born American child who discovered what it was like to grow up behind barbed wire in the United States. (from the publisher)

Camp Notes and Other Writings by Mitsuye Yamada. An activist, feminist, and poet, during World War II, Mitsuye Yamada’s Japanese immigrant family was forcibly relocated from their home in Seattle, Washington to an internment camp in Idaho. Yamada’s poetry collection, Camp Notes and Other Writings, speaks to that experience of internment — especially as a woman forced to feel like an outsider in her own country — and documents the racial violence and discrimination she and her family faced after World War II. (from the back cover)

George Takei (Star Trek, Heroes) at FDR Library, 3 p.m., Sunday, February 19, 2017 will be speaking of his family’s internment during WWII. Also, he stared in Allegiance, a Broadway musical, 2016. It was inspired by his life experiences in WWII and follows an extraordinary story of a family’s journey from prosperity in Los Angeles to internment in Rohwer, Arkansas.

Setsuko Winchester: In February of 2017, my photographs will be part of a photography exhibition at the FDR Library and Museum in Hyde Park, NY. It will be 75 years since Franklin Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066 on February 19, 1942, which authorized the Secretary of War and any military commander designated by him “to prescribe military areas…from which any or all persons may be excluded.” This paved the way for what would become the mass forced removal and incarceration of all American-Japanese on the West Coast.

List of the ten Internment Camps  of American-Japanese from March, 1942 until their closing in 1945 and 1946.

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Setsuko Winchester: Freedom from Fear — The Yellow Bowl Project  StudioSeeds Inspire By Suze Bienaimee

Carolyn Palmer Sculpture of Lucille Ball Replaces “Scary Lucy”

Carolyn Palmer, sculptor, working on her national-competition-winning sculpture of Lucille Ball aka Lucy! Photo of the finished sculpture below.

Meet Carolyn Palmer! A master sculptor with an international reputation. Her work is in museums, public venues and private collections around the USA and the world.

Carolyn makes magic with clay cast into bronze and marble sculpted directly. She brings the famous from times past “back to life” as well as giving more life to the living. Her most recent sculptures are Pope Francis (the living Pope!), the Roosevelts (Franklin and Eleanor), and Lucille Ball.

Photo: Suze Bienaimee for

A bronze Pope Francis bust by Carolyn Palmer will soon be placed in St. Patrick’s Cathedral, New York, New York.

Carolyn Palmer, sculptor, at work on the bust of Pope Francis.
Sculptor’s Hands: Palmer working on her portrait of Pope Francis.
NEWEST Pope Francis Carolyn Palmer 3 copy
Palmer’s bust of Pope Francis greeted him in the Papal Residence, New York City, 2015.
Lucille Ball, “Lucy” replacement of “scary lucy”. Sculpture by Carolyn Palmer unveiled in Lucille Ball Memorial Park, Celoron, New York, August 6, 2016
Carloyn Lucy front right
Palmer’s sculpture of Lucille Ball replaces “Scary Lucy”.

Carolyn Lucy front leftLucille Ball! In the top photo, Carolyn is working on her larger-than-life figure portrait of Lucille Ball. Palmer’s sculpture replaced in infamous, “scary lucy” by selection as the winner of a national competition. Palmer’s Lucy sculpture was unveiled on August 6, 2016 on Lucy’s birthday in Lucille Ball Memorial Park, Celoron, New York.

After a visit to Carolyn’s studio for photographs, we continued our conversation in a restaurant converted from an old bank, dwarfed below the thirty-foot ceiling, dumbfounded to see diners in the old vault with its formidable five-ton steel door and surrounded by the bustle, crackle, chatter, hum of waiters, diners, dishes, music; we leaned in to hear each other.

SUZE BIENAIMEE: The purpose of this site, and @StudioSeeds on Twitter is to explore inspiration — the seeds of creativity.  

What is your inspiration?

CAROLYN PALMER: Light, shadow and spirit.

Light dancing on the various planes of people’s faces; I am passionate about looking for this. Because I sculpt mostly figures and faces, I’m inspired to bring out the features of each person by studying their lighting environment.

Theatre lighting is one of my favorite venues for inspiration because when I turn around to the audience before a play or intermission, I can see hundreds of portraits under a very strong overhead lighting. It’s a very dramatic way to see the nuances of many facial characteristics at once. Just check it out, you will see a powerful play on light; all the different facets of the face come to life through light casting it’s play on shadows.

And it’s the shadows created by the light.

I sculpt by manipulating the shadows. First, I stage a light from above and watch where it lays on the cheeks, nose, the forehead and then I read the shadows. If you look closely shadows have a spectrum from dark to light. This is how to perceive the depth of the planes; if they curve, turn or where they stop. When trying to achieve a person’s likeness from two-dimensional images, I’ll simulate the exact lighting in my studio with the shadows seen in the reference photographs. Then I start adding clay into the shadows where needed or take clay away from the lit areas to create more shadows. Next, I’ll twist and turn the portrait in various directions to to get a three dimensional likeness.

And spirit!

During this whole process of recreating shadows and light, I am feeling the spirit of my subject. It’s important to work from the heart. Artist, Marc Chagall said, “If I create from the heart, nearly everything works; if from the head, almost nothing”. I agree!

So I would say, to bring out the spirit, I’m inspired by the way light and shadows dance on faces in many different environments. My current sculpture will be placed outside and when working on the patina, I am considering the position in the park to decide which patina looks best. With the morning, noon and evening lighting, it will appear different, like Monet’s “Haystacks”. The light casts various shadows and colors depending on the time of year and day. Other than the appropriate patina, another concern is sculpting the eyelashes, so they are thick enough to withstand the elements, but there is one caveat: I might not be pleased  with the shadows from the sun’s zenith, but some things can’t be controlled.

Sculpture for me in not just about seeing. I sculpt with my eyes closed sometimes; I like to feel the sculpture.

I learned a lot from the Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt public commission; they said my pieces should be touchable, that the blind would be feeling the sculptures, so I started feeling them too with my eyes closed and thought, gosh, this is a gift to me too — to feel and sculpt with my eyes closed!

Even when I’m working on a leg, I think, that doesn’t feel like a real leg and so then I sculpt with my eyes closed until it does feel real. Then when I’m working on a neck or face, I feel along the shoulders and if I think a body wouldn’t feel that way, I can change it. So a lot of it is touch and feel — the way a real body would feel.

SUZE BIENAIMEE: Wow! Feeling the spirit of your subjects with the help of light and shadow! And sometimes your eyes are closed when you sculpt! That’s inspiring!

Thank you Carolyn.

Please connect in the Comments section of this post here on — much appreciated.

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Carolyn Palmer Sculpture of Lucille Ball Replaces “Scary Lucy” StudioSeeds Inspire By Suze Bienaimee