Thursday, April 28, 2011

humanizing the quake (bicycles)

When I paint etegami, I almost always make an English version and a Japanese version. This is the Japanese version of the etegami in my last post. Remember that one? The English version, as explained in the earlier post, has a poetic reference and was meant to be humorous. The Japanese version has no such reference, and simply says "I have the key, but the bicycle is gone."

Yesterday, I received an appreciative comment from a Japanese colleague who assumed the bike key etegami was part of my "humanizing the quake" series. Then it hit me! The tsunami destroyed and carried off buildings, ships, automobiles, people, livestock.... and bicycles.

Bicycles are an intimate part of life in Japan, without which so many of our daily chores would be difficult to accomplish. How much more so in the days after the quake when roads were broken up and gasoline was hard to find, so you couldn't drive even if you had a car. One of the early disaster relief projects was to send bicycles to the hard hit areas. I cheered when I heard of it. I know what a big difference a bicycle can make.

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