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Artist Marcia Borel shares her love for Japanese floral arranging

Posted on April 30, 2020 at 4:00 PM by Quinn Vandenberg

Artist and Iowa State Alum Marcia Borel finds self-expression through the sculptures she creates using a medium and techniques often unknown to those in the Western Hemisphere. Borel is a student of ikebana, the Japanese art of floral arrangement. Ikebana is an extensive artistic practice and encompasses over 1,000 schools. Borel shared her unique talent, specifically with the ikebana school of Sogetsu, with University Museums and for the creation of Undulations, included in the (currently closed) Contemplate Japan exhibition. 

Borel is an alum of the Iowa State University College of Human Sciences and graduated from the school in 1978 with a degree in Family Environment. While a sophomore at Iowa State, she met her future husband, Jim Borel. Jim began working with DuPont International, and the family was able to travel the world. In 1993, Jim and Marcia moved to Japan with their two children.

While in Japan, Borel engaged with many aspects of Japanese culture and sought out friends in her newfound surroundings. Her efforts led to the rather serendipitous discovery of the artform she has come to love. An art class taken with a friend on a whim kickstarted Borel’s artistic passion for sogetsu ikebana.

Borel explained that sogetsu is a relatively new school of ikebana. It teaches that anyone, anywhere can use any material to create an ikebana sculptural arrangement. Sogetsu also allows for the creation of one’s own design. 

“[Sogetsu] is also contemporary,” said Borel. “The look of it takes my breath away sometimes. [It’s} an art form that spoke to me and I continue to study today, 30 years later.”


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