Washi exhibit in Allentown transforms Japanese paper into amazing sculptures

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Washi exhibit in Allentown transforms Japanese paper into amazing sculptures
Eriko Horiki, Washi Light Object TANE, 2017, Washi paper and resin mold, light fixture (steel), Image courtesy of the artist, © Eriko Horiki.

ALLENTOWN, PA.- The Allentown Art Museum announced the opening of the special exhibition Washi Transformed: New Expressions in Japanese Paper on Sunday, October 10, 2021, and continuing on view through January 2, 2022. Allentown is the first stop on a tour of the exhibition, which goes through 2024.

Washi Transformed presents more than thirty highly textured two-dimensional works, expressive sculptures, and dramatic installations that explore the astonishing potential of traditional Japanese paper. Nine Japanese artists embrace the seemingly infinite possibilities of washi, underscoring the unique stature this ancient art form has earned in the realm of international contemporary art.

Historically, washi has been used as a base for Japanese calligraphy, painting, and printmaking; but when oiled, lacquered, or otherwise altered, it has other fascinating applications in architecture, religious ritual, fashion, and art. The breathtaking creativity of the artistic visionaries included in this exhibition deepens our understanding of how the past informs the present, and how it can build lasting cultural bridges out of something as seemingly simple and ephemeral as paper.

Washi Transformed features work by artists Hina Aoyama, Eriko Horiki, Kyoko Ibe, Yoshio Ikezaki, Kakuko Ishii, Yuko Kimura, Yuko Nishimura, Takaaki Tanaka, and Ayomi Yoshida.

Also on display on the second floor of the Museum is the exhibition Intuition & Reflection: The Ceramics of Toshiko Takaezu.

The Museum continues to follow certain COVID restrictions, including requiring masks in the galleries.

Washi Transformed: New Expressions in Japanese Paper was organized by Meher McArthur and is toured by International Arts & Artists, Washington, DC.

Meher McArthur is the Art & Cultural Director of Japan House, Los Angeles, and a curator and historian of Japanese art. She curated the IA&A traveling exhibitions Folding Paper: The Infinite Possibilities of Origami (2012-2016) and Above the Fold: New Expressions in Contemporary Origami (2015 -2020) and co-curated Nature, Tradition and Innovation: Japanese Ceramics from the Gordon Brodfuehrer Collection (2016-2019). McArthur received an MA in Japanese Studies from Cambridge University; a postgraduate diploma in Asian Art from Sotheby’s School of Oriental Studies (SOAS), London University; and an MA in Art and Archaeology from SOAS, London University.

Scheduled U.S. tour dates for Washi Transformed: New Expressions in Japanese Paper include: Allentown Art Museum, Allentown, PA (October 10, 2021 – January 2, 2022); Longmont Museum, Longmont, CO (January 28, 2022 – May 15, 2022); D’Amour Museum of Fine Arts, Springfield, MA (June 11, 2022 – September 4, 2022); Morikami Museum and Japanese Gardens, Delray Beach, FL (November 3, 2022 – April 2, 2023); Dayton Art Institute, Dayton, OH (June 24, 2023 – September 17, 2023); Mingei International Museum, San Diego, CA (October 13, 2023 – January 7, 2024); and the Palmer Museum of Art at Penn State University, State College, PA (September 11, 2024 – December 8, 2024).

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