Substance Journal

Viewing Stones Exhibition

The term “viewing stones” is primarily associated with two traditions of stone appreciation: Chinese Gongshi (or scholar’s rocks) and Japanese suiseki. Today, viewing-stone associations around the world take inspiration from these traditions and are creating new ways of displaying stones. Petraphiles, whether ancient or contemporary, are often drawn to express their appreciation of favored stones in writing.
The Petraphiles represented in this virtual exhibition are diverse in their expressions of geo-affection. They are, by turns, both scholarly and poetic. In each entry there is a sense of discovery. Thomas Elias finds his Liaoshan Green Stone talking to him about the vicissitudes of life. Kemin Hu’s research on a Kun stone led her unexpectedly to the original owner of the stone. Joseph Roussel’s Wen stone reveals its elusive character in the play of light falling across its convoluted surface over the course of a day. Go And Catch A Falling Star (Odessa, Texas), Rick Stiles’s tiny meteorite fragment, speaks to him of the vast scale of the space/time of our universe. Richard Strassberg finds new meaning in a stone that has been in his possession for decades when he recontextualizes it in an antique Chinese stone basin. In the course of a stream-of-consciousness rant about an ungainly stone in his collection, Richard Turner begins to understand the Chinese standards of stone appreciation: zhu (clumsy), chou (ugly) and guai(grotesque).
--Richard Turner and Paul A. Harris
SubStance #146, Vol. 47, no. 2, 2018 ©2018 Johns Hopkins University Press and SubStance, Inc

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