Portland area residents are fortunate to have three active Sogetsu teachers who offer instruction to both beginning and advanced students. Mrs. Keiko Kodachi, founder of the Sogetsu branch in Portland, teaches in SW Portland, and Mrs. Hideko Hearn teaches in Beaverton. This issue profiles the third instructor, Mrs. Leslie Dolin, who teaches in NE Portland and edits the quarterly Sogetsu News. Kodachi-sensei and Hearn-sensei will be interviewed in the near future. Answers from Dolin-sensei have been edited for brevity.
What attracts you to the art of ikebana?
At first I studied ikebana because it seemed like an interesting
thing to do while in Japan but it wasn't until I did it for a while
and went to a couple of exhibits that I really understood how meaningful
it could be. I especially like the impermanence of the materials, that
our works don't last, so that we must be continually creative.
Share your work with the synagogue.
Since our synagogue was founded, I have done large arrangements
for the two major fall holidays, Rosh Hashana (Jewish New Year) and
Yom Kippur. They are not typical arrangements for these holidays, since
traditionally the flowers are white (and the Torah will have a white
cover; also, people wear white to services). So I rarely use white.
How do students find you?
I started teaching in Astoria in 1986 and began in Portland around 10 years ago. A couple of my Astoria students also moved to Portland and found me to resume their studies. Nowadays most students find me through the internet--through the Sogetsu website! I can't remember how students found me in the days before the website, probably through word-of-mouth, folks I knew in other contexts who know I teach, and some that called after they attended our Sogetsu Rose Show.