“There is no live model in my class. Instead, students must supply their own model (maquette) made from clay, plaster, or other material. With this I can understand the student’s vision and instruct them in carving it from the piece of stone or wood of their choosing. I also emphasize the great importance of the quality of the stone or wood when choosing one to carve. This class is not for direct carvers who work without a maquette. Regardless of the student’s idea, figurative or abstract, I teach the Mentori method of carving, which involves blocking out the form from the massive block, followed by forming the shape and finishing. It is a step-by-step process that I require each student to follow according to my instructions. Students may choose to work traditionally with mallet and chisel by hand, or use pneumatic and other power tools in the designated space provided.
“The diversity of expression in art today is partly a result of new technology. In the sculpture classes, for example, we now have a pneumatic tool system, which is aiding students with additional power. However, the traditional method of carving remains the foundation and is most important. Since I have joined The Art Students League as an instructor, I have met marvelous students from whom I have learned,” says Seiji Saito. Mr. Saito teaches “how to see the form and compose.”
In his class, students are encouraged to work in their own style, choosing their own subjects and materials.
Mr. Saito was born in Utsunomiya, Japan. He received his B.F.A., studying drawing, clay modeling, and wood carving with the spirited sculptor Professor Tsuruzo Ishii at the Tokyo National University of Fine Arts and Music. There, he also received his M.F.A., with a concentration in stone carving.
Mr. Saito’s superb technical training in both hand and machine carving techniques is based upon study with esteemed instructor Kametaro Akashi. Later, Mr. Saito came to the United States and received a scholarship to study at the Brooklyn Museum Art School. He also studied techniques of granite carving with master stone carver Odilio Beggi. Mr. Beggi encouraged him to create his Mother and Child in one-ton Vermont granite. Mr. Saito then directly carved it in three-ton Rourentian red granite from Canada—a process that took nineteen years.
The artist has exhibited widely for forty years. His works are in public, private, and corporate collections internationally. Five of his works are in the PepsiCo Inc. collection in Purchase, New York. Recent exhibitions include Power of Sculpture, featuring the work of three Utsunomiya sculptors: Rusuo Saeki, Seiji Saito, and Akio Shinozaki, at Utsunomiya Museum of Art in Japan (2013).
Mr. Saito has received numerous awards for his work, including a major purchase prize from the First Kotaro Takamura Grand Prize Exhibition at the Hakone Open-Air Museum in Japan. He has been elected as a Fellow of the National Sculpture Society. He has received four awards from the National Sculpture Society, in addition to major awards from the National Academy of Design.
He maintains both carving and clay modeling studios in his Brooklyn loft.