Through kintsugi, a Japanese art form that repairs broken pottery with gold, Kirsten Helgeson experienced healing. She offers that same healing to other women by leading them in a kintsugi workshop, focusing on the philosophy behind the art: there is beauty in brokenness.
“Everybody, I hope, walks away with this greater connection to who they are. That they learn that the things they’ve experienced — the good, the bad, the ugly — it has made them this beautiful, dynamic, interesting person they are today.”
Meet Kirsten: kintsugi artist
Kirsten Helgeson: Kintsugi is a Japanese art form but also a philosophy. Kintsugi actually repairs broken pottery with gold, believing that the piece is more beautiful for having been broken. I’m entirely self-taught and have used this as a way to both heal things for who I am and celebrate who I am, but then also to help other people learn to do that same sort of healing.
Kirsten leads kintsugi art workshops for women.
[Talking to workshop participants] Three, two, one, open your boxes.
(Participants react to their pottery items)
[Talking to workshop participants] Close your eyes, and take a few big, deep breaths with it. All of the shame you may hold for things that you want to tuck away inside your heart, that you don’t think deserve the light of day. All of the loss you’re feeling, the people you’ve had to let go of, the love you never really got to live out fully. I want you to put those into the pot. Before we put this thing to rest, I want you to put all of your love into that little piece of pottery. Are you ready to break some pottery?
(Participants break pottery pieces)
Participant, shattering pottery item: Oh, I’m going to have a project (laughs).
Kirsten: I want people to also know that their hearts are breakable, and it’s a very good thing, that it’s worth celebrating because it allows you to grow and expand. And you get to put your heart back together.
(Participants apply gold glue to broken pottery)
I’ve done kintsugi now — I think I’ve put a couple hundred people through kintsugi, and they’ve come from lots of different walks of life. I’ve had people that have been survivors of domestic violence, survivors of human trafficking go through and create kintsugi. I’ve had women that have been experiencing divorce, even if it was like 10 years ago, and trying to let go and process some of the emotion around it. Yeah, I’ve had vast ranges of people that are coming to the table to all look and approach kintsugi from their different kinds of windows and vantage points in life.
Everybody, I hope, walks away with this greater connection to who they are. That they learn that the things that they’ve experienced — the good, the bad, the ugly, all of that — it has made them this beautiful, dynamic, interesting person that they are today. And that that person is worth celebrating and honoring.