Towards a 21st century renaissance:
from art - a new vision of society
As a high school student in the 80s, I was deeply pained by the news about school violence and horrifying domestic violence involving children of my age. “Why do we keep fighting one other?” “Surely human beings are born to pursue our own happiness, so why do we make choices that make us unhappy?” - these were the kinds of questions that constantly troubled me. Reading Capra’s book in my twenties was a revelation, shedding a ray of light on these questions from my teenage years. In this volume, Capra writes about issues related to healthcare, the limits of economic models, environmental pollution and the causes of social unrest from his standpoint as a physicist. Across 700 pages he lays out problematic psychological approaches which neglect the true possibilities of the human spirit, and predicts that we are headed for a paradigm shift – a dramatic shift in values and worldview. I have to confess I no longer remember all the details, however, when I saw a chart showing the process of social transformation – of the old social values gradually decaying, and a new worldview and mindset taking its place - I was stunned by the realisation that this turning point was indeed imminent. In that moment I promised myself that I would be part of this social transformation - that I would embrace this new worldview and live these values.
In the 15 years that followed, driven by a desire to understand the world from a systems perspective I sought to understand the external system, the world around me by voraciously reading books on psychology, sociology, religion, economics. I also sought to gain a deeper understanding of my own inner system, my personal history, emotions, and subjective views about the world, and over the years I synthesised what I learned, constantly refining and testing my ideas through my work and research. However, far from finding signs of this social transformation, amidst the turbulent events of the time - the Gulf War, the collapse of Japan’s economic bubble, the Tokyo subway sarin attack – I began to feel a deep sense of despair as I struggled to see a way out of the status quo. The turning point I had eagerly anticipated in the 21st century seemed no where in sight.
In the midst of this, it was an encounter with the artist Kunihiko Yazawa which gave me a renewed sense of hope. I was stunned by Yazawa’s boundless stream of ideas and creativity, his ability to bring his ideas to life and the philosophy underlying his art practice. Over the years as I’ve worked on various art projects with Yazawa, my initial intuition that his immense talent and ideas as an artist could make a meaningful contribution to society became a firm conviction. This is the story of White Ship’s founding as told from my perspective.
The 20 years since White Ship’s founding hasn’t always been smooth sailing, but we have been able to build up our practice through countless miracles and inspiring encounters. Starting a business with what sounded to some like a crazy vision of making the world a better place through art, would not have been possible without the support of those who believed in us and our vision. As we mark our 20th anniversary, I would like to take this opportunity to offer my heartfelt gratitude to everyone who has accompanied us on this journey.
As we head into the next decade, we hope to contribute towards a world of human flourishing by scaling up the work we have nurtured over the past 20 years, and share our work with more people around the world.
Over the years we have learned that our art-based learning programs, based on the EGAKU method, can help individuals develop social and emotional skills, systems thinking, critical thinking and creativity – skills which are critical to human flourishing in the 21st century*. We believe that developing these skills require more than an intellectual understanding of these concepts, but also an understanding of developmental psychology to address what psychologist Robert Kegan calls our “immunity maps”**. Going forward we hope to share the experience and knowledge we have accumulated over the past 20 years through our work creating art-based learning experiences for over 20,000 people***, by leveraging digital platforms and technology to reach more people around the world.
With the launch of Kunihiko Yazawa’s first monograph to mark our 20th anniversary, we plan to put a renewed focus on our gallery programming as we work towards the realisation of a new kind of museum for the 21st century - a museum and school where people can experience the joy and wonder of art, and the boundless possibilities of art.
Over the next 10 years we will continue to pursue even more ambitious challenges, as we work with our passionate friends and supporters towards a new vision of society - a 21st century renaissance.
* Vincent-Lancrin, S., et al. (2019), Fostering Students' Creativity and Critical Thinking: What it Means in School, Educational Research and Innovation, OECD Publishing, Paris
** Robert Kegan, (2009), Immunity to Change: How to Overcome It and Unlock the Potential in Yourself and Your Organization
*** White Ship website, (2021), Corporate Programs | Latest data on EGAKU’s impact and reach released
Throughout the ages, till this day artists have lived and continued to create works - in some ages shaping history, in others becoming swept up in the tide of history. While the modes of expression have changed since we began drawing some tens of thousands of years ago, art has never disappeared from human history.
This fact suggests that despite the tendency to view art as something special, as the monopoly of artists and the privileged few, art is intimately connected with who we are as humans - our desires, hopes, dreams and evolution. It also implies art has an important role to play in our lives and in the world.
What is the meaning of art? What is it for?
What is art?
I founded White Ship with Kimi Hasebe in an attempt to find my own answers to these questions. I wanted to understand how art can create meaningful change in the world. White Ship is an attempt to take the world as my canvas to explore new expressions and ideas of what art can be, and is part of my art practice.
In the world we live in today we are faced with many challenges, and I believe that art can play a critical role in helping us find solutions or at least offer us clues to finding new ways to confront these challenges. I think that the role of art as a borderless communication tool that transcends race and nationality will also become increasingly important. I believe that our art practice and the art of the future can help us create a beautiful future. This is what I believe. This is my hope.
|Corporate name||White Ship, Inc.|
6F Terasawa Bld., 1-7-17 Motoakasaka Minato-ku, Tokyo, Japan 107-0051
|Date established||January 1, 2001|
|Board members||Kimi Hasebe CEO
Kunihiko Yazawa Director
Ryoko Nakamura Director
|Related websites||EGAKU Online >>
Kunihiko Yazawa official website >>
9201 Gallery >>
|January 2001||Founding of White Ship|
|August 2002||Started EGAKU Program for elementary school children|
Incorporation as White Ship, Inc.
|June 2006||Moved to Akasaka, Tokyo and opened office and studio|
|January 2007||Started regular EGAKU sessions for business professionals|
|January 2008||Launched human resource consulting x EGAKU Program|
|May 2009||Launched strategy consulting x EGAKU Program|
|June 2011||Founding of ELAB (formerly known as Institute of Communication Art)|
|February 2013||Moved to Moto-Akasaka, Tokyo and opened office & 9201 Gallery|
Organizational Development Consulting
White Ship, Inc.
-Office & 9201 Gallery-
Tel : +81-3-6434-9785 Fax : +81-3-6434-9786 E-mail : email@example.com
6 minute walk from Ginza/Marunouchi Line Akasaka-mitsuke Station Exit B
6 minute walk from Yurakucho/Hanzomon/Namboku Line Nagata-cho Station Exit B
15 minute walk from Ginza/Hanzomon/Oedo Line Aoyama Itchome Station Exit 2