Ink: Suzuyo Rust

We all have a story to tell. A way that we engage with the world, or the way the world engages with us. While some paint or play music, others draw, sculpt or write. But inside each of us is a soul destined to create, to make something beautiful, to tell our story with the world.

This Southeast Missouri woman uses ink as her medium. Ink is the tool; the story is her life.



Suzuyo Rust grew up in Kumamoto, Japan, where the art of calligraphy was a staple in early elementary education. In Japan, everyone learned the basics at school: how to hold the brush, use different strokes and change the ink to contrast light and dark. According to Rust, calligraphy was highly regarded, and “if you could write well, people respected you.”

As an adult in America, calligraphy is no longer a part of her daily life, but she continues to find ways to appreciate the art. One connection she has found is through the Japanese tea ceremony. Rust is part of Chado Society of St. Louis, a group that meets weekly to practice Chado, the Way of Tea. With this group, Rust is a student of the tea ceremony, and while the process is focused mainly on the art of making and drinking tea, they always “appreciate the displayed calligraphy while walking to the tea room,” she says. “It’s beautiful.”

In her family life, she gets to practice writing in brush with her husband and children, as they set New Year’s resolutions. Each family member chooses a Japanese character to represent their year, writing it out using calligraphy, and then posting it on the refrigerator. This tradition has become a meaningful practice that allows them to enjoy quiet, focused family time as they begin each new year.

For Rust, calligraphy has become a hobby and way to relax, but is also deeply connected to Japanese culture. It’s not just beautiful art, but “there is meaning in the words,” she says. “When someone takes the time to write by hand, you know it’s important.”

This may be especially true in our fast-paced society of texts and emails. When you get the chance to view a handwritten canvas, a formal invitation or a letter written in love, you feel the connection. Sometimes it’s a connection to the past, to the person who wrote it or a deeper connection with yourself. But it all starts with the art of giving and receiving; an exchanging of stories in ink.