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Basho’s Pond:

Frogs, Lotus and Transformation.

Works of Paper by Sheryl Jaffe


This multi-construct show featured 2 and 3 dimensional works using paper made from plants by the artist. Prints, scrolls, cubes and sculptures formed from natural fibers, wax and mixed media. These works explore ideas of transformation: physical, mental, spiritual and extra-terrestrial.

Furu ike ya
kawazu tobikomu
mizu no oto
by Matsuo Basho
The old pond
A frog jumped in,
Allen Ginsburg’s translation

This famous Haiku, written by Japanese Zen poet, Matsuo Basho (1644-1694) is the inspiration for this colorful, provocative art installation. Out of the timeless serene summer twilight of the old pond comes the “kerplunk” of the frog’s splash. As the Buddha changed with noticing the morning star, we can be transformed by the “kerplunk” of the frog. The lotus is known for its purity and beauty that is born from the mud and muck of the world, frogs are living reminders of rain, fertility, transformation and rebirth. Their well-being is closely linked to that of our environment. They are considered an indicator species, indicating various aspects of climate change. Amphibian means 2 lives, (one on land and one on water), most of us have at least 2, some of us many more. Our brains carry the memories from one part of our life to the other and it can be challenging to move through these many lives. Frogs are a great metaphor for these transformations; eggs to polliwogs to froglet to adult frog.


Frogs are considered common creatures paper is a common material, readily available, taken for granted, “not special”. What if we transform our ideas of these creatures and this material and see them as fantastic, as adaptable, as extraordinary and as beautiful as they really are.


Transformation is the thread that connects and repels. As living beings we change, grow and are transformed by events, relationships, emotions, experiences. Change is constant this is both difficult and refreshing. In my studio practice I engage with plant fibers that are transformed by heat, water, pounding, movement, color and me. These paperworks are all made of plant fibers, they will continue to absorb the moisture in the air, the ambient light and the mood of the viewer.


My life is continuously transformed; by meetings of minds, sharing closely held beliefs, chance encounters, and relationships with people I previously thought impossible. I believe in the power of transformation, the sick get healed, the addict gets sober, depression can give way to joy and empathy. Life is filled with such transformations. I welcome you to consider leaves and frogs, fibers and artwork and their power to transform.

Basho's Pond
Basho's Pond
Sheryl and Basho



Means 2 lives – one on land

The other, water.

Most of us have at least 2. Some of us have more, some many more.

Transitioning from one to another – opening up that dormant chamber – spraying light.

Waking UP

At times smooth flow marks the transformation.

Other times strain, creak, push and reach for it, gather strength, take.

Grow legs, absorb that tail


Then hop.

creating the piece
making the paper
printing the paper at Zea Mays studio

September 3 - October 22 , 2016

180 Mill Park

180 Pleasant Street

Easthampton, MA

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