American interest in Kawashima's large, outdoor, site-specific sculpture
has been so great that the artist has begun making small-scale models for
purchase by private collectors. The creator of contemporary designs
executed with fresh-cut bamboo, his sense of adventure is inspired by Shono
Shounsai, Japan's first Living National Treasure in bamboo arts, who was a
major advocate of the sculptural possibilities of bamboo.
Kawashima was in his twenties when he began teaching at the Beppu
Occupational School. Because of his youth, his students did not take him
seriously until he challenged them to a competition to see who could split
bamboo fastest and most accurately.
In the last decade, he has placed pieces in some 30 public locations
throughout Japan, Europe, and the United States, including the San
Francisco Asian Art Museum, and exhibited in a dozen shows featuring
emerging contemporary artists. His creativity and quickness to master new
techniques have established his reputation as a leader in the next wave of
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