Kappa, 2016. 11″ x 9.5″ x 4.5″. Polymer clay, acrylic paints and resin.
We’re pleased to share the second piece of sculpture from Jocelyn MacDonald: this is called kappa.
Some of my earliest interactions with Japanese culture came through the folklore and legends. When I was young, if I was being stubborn my mom would tell me about the Thunder God, flying high on his cloud, ready to eat the bellybuttons of naughty children. Or if I wouldn’t go to sleep, there was the demon with his terrifying, ominous beating drum, who would steal kids that stayed up past their bedtime. My favorite, however, was the green river imp, the Kappa. Kappa was a mischevious human-turtle hybrid that would generally ruin the day of any traveler. On top of its head is a plate of water that it must keep filled to stay alive. Like many Japanese monsters, the kappa does have its manners – if a traveler bows to it, it will bow right back, spilling all the water from the plate and killing it. Children learn about their peoples’ fears, morals and values through fables like the Kappa and the belly-button-eating Thunder God.
Being mixed, I often feel like an outsider looking in when it comes to Japanese culture. But it is strangely comforting to know that I do share one commonality with Japanese people – we laid awake at night in fear of the same monsters!
Jocelyn MacDonald is a mixed race visual artist. She was born in Kyoto, Japan, raised in a small town in Minnesota, and is now painting murals in Philadelphia. In 2015 she graduated from Moore College of Art and Design with a BFA in Fine Arts. With her personal work, she uses portraiture to tell individual narratives and expressions of identity, and will do so using various media – painting, drawing, sculpture.