CI Announces “Art and Ecology in Japan” Exhibition

Camarillo, CA - An exhibition by CSU Channel Islands (CI) students at the Palm Gallery in Camarillo will showcase the intersection of Japanese art and ecology and the value of study abroad. Running Tuesday, Sept. 2, through Wednesday, Sept. 24, “Art and Ecology in Japan: Satoyama and Echizen,” displays traditional ceramic and sustainable land-use techniques from the village of Echizen, Japan, as presented by the 15 CI students who traveled there with their instructors in May for an innovative course.

At a free public reception on Thursday, Sept. 18, from 6 to 8 p.m., students will exhibit their own ceramic work alongside that of contemporary Echizen ceramicists, share posters and presentations highlighting the area’s venerated pottery and agricultural techniques, and answer questions about their travel and learning experiences.

The exhibition is the culmination of an UNIV 392 international experience course, Art and Ecology in Japan: Satoyama and Echizen, conceived and co-taught by English Professor Brad Monsma and Art Lecturer Amiko Matsuo. The two-week interdisciplinary course led students to Japan’s Fukui Prefecture for in-depth study of a centuries-old ceramic technique unique to Echizen and “satoyama,” an ancient, sustainable Japanese land-use concept linking village to mountain.

The students worked with clay under the guidance of expert Echizen ceramists, visited 800-year-old historic kiln sites, learned the workings of an organic rice farm, participated in Echizen’s renowned annual Pottery Festival, toured historical, spiritual and cultural sites, performed service activities, and experienced the area’s cuisine, scenery and exceptional hospitality. They were warmly welcomed by town dignitaries, artists, farmers, students, and even interviewed by the local media.

“This trip was my first international travel experience and being immersed in a different culture was very eye opening,” said senior Art major Meghan Sheetz. “I admire how the Japanese incorporate and embrace the arts in their everyday lives, whether through the ceramic bowl they use to eat food or taking grade-school children to the Kanazawa Contemporary Museum. There is a place in their culture for the arts and people honor those who dedicate their lives to an art form.”

Funded by CI’s Instructionally Related Activities Committee, the trip brought together a diverse group of students majoring in subjects including Art, English, History, Environmental Science & Resource Management, Psychology, and Political Science.

“One primary message of this exhibition is the importance of international travel as part of college curriculum,” said Monsma. “These experiences transform students' lives by expanding their worldview and what they see as possible in life. They return to their other college classes with more curiosity and confidence.”

“This show reflects the history of Echizen and provides a clear window into the revival and reclaiming of historical techniques and narratives as essential aspects of tradition,” said Matsuo. “Students were inspired by how the town has used its strong tradition of arts and farming to create a sustainable, collaborative economic and creative model.”

The CI Palm Gallery is located at 92 Palm Avenue, Camarillo, inside the Camarillo Smiles Dental building. Gallery hours are 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday through Thursday, and 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Friday. The gallery is closed Saturday and Sunday. For further information, visit, call 805-437-2772, or email

About California State University Channel Islands
CSU Channel Islands (CI) is the only four-year, public university in Ventura County and is known for its interdisciplinary, multicultural and international perspectives, and its emphasis on experiential and service learning. CI’s strong academic programs focus on business, sciences, liberal studies, teaching credentials, and innovative master’s degrees. Students benefit from individual attention, up-to-date technology, and classroom instruction augmented by outstanding faculty research. CI has been designated by the U.S. Department of Education as a Hispanic-Serving Institution and is committed to serving students of all backgrounds from the region and beyond. Connect with and learn more about CI by visiting CI’s Social Media.