Artists are like sponges, they absorb their surroundings effortlessly and that’s certainly been the case for me in Japan. The tools and techniques such as Katazome and Katagami stencil painting, which have informed my process, have been indispensable in developing the way I make paintings. Rather than a wholesale lifting and application of a historical process, it’s more like a process of filtration or a way of seeing. Parts of an old technique can illuminate a new way forward, where they become instrumental in developing new tools, rather.
I also believe that we make use of the resources we are afforded and within the constraints of our environment. If I hadn't been in Japan, I would have found a different way forward with different tools most likely.
There are different ways of seeing culture. You can see it as a 'what,' but I tend to see it as a 'how' as well. There are artifacts, but what makes them sacred or valuable is nothing intrinsic to them but everything else that surrounds them; the tradition, the ritual, the context, etc. In truth, it’s the irreducible interplay between the 'what' and the 'how,' between the artifact and the ritual that forms a reciprocal and hopefully sustainable pattern across time.
So, when thinking about appropriation, it helps to keep those aspects of culture in mind. Functional appropriation can be a positive force in sustaining that cultural pattern because it establishes precedent and extension. Maybe there’s a fear that too much can cause displacement, but I think it’s probably more complicated than that. Global economic and political forces are also factors. It’s all connected as usual.