Friday, September 16, 2011

Japan’s Textile Pioneers: Weaving Threads Of The Past Into The Future

When visitors climb the stairs to Japan Society’s new exhibit Fiber Futures: Japan’s Textile Pioneers, they are greeted by Kyoko Ibe’s Requiem, created specifically for the show. The large, dark purple, net-like weave adds mystery to the Society’s typically calm lobby, and yet engulfs the garden pool from above in an almost protective manner. Japan Society gallery director, Joe Earle, notes that the piece is:
a memorial to victims of the earthquake and tsunami on March 11, 2011. The fluidity of water is one of the miracles of nature, yet all of us were shocked and saddened to see how it could destroy so many lives and livelihoods. Ibe created Requiem from ancient indigo-dyed paper, made in a pristine natural environment and originally used for Buddhist scriptures. Sensing that our uncertain times cry out for the qualities of peace and stability embodied in this lovingly preserved material, she has twisted and worked it night and day for many months as a prayer for divine protection.
The piece is just one of 35 featured textile artworks that combine the beauty of tradition with eye-popping experimentation. The use of color and incredible shapes are the first things that may strike visitors, but upon closer inspection, the impossible textures and intricate techniques stun the imagination. Each installation, ranging from soccer ball size to meters wide and tall, is imbued with personality and a story. Those that hang on the walls cast equally striking shadows, subtly adding to their mystique.

Fiber Futures runs through December 18th. You can view more photos from the exhibit here and here. Related programming includes an exhibition talk, a day with family activities, an evening with former Miyake creative director Dai Fujiwara, and individual workshops on weaving, dyeing and embroidery.

If you can’t make it to Japan Society, you can check out the gorgeous catalogue or download the free app for iPhone or Android, and wrap yourself with Fiber Futures wherever you are in the world.

--Sean Tomizawa

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