Springfield (MA)—Springfield Museums is pleased to present Washi Transformed: New Expressions in Japanese Paper, on view Saturday, June 11 to Sunday, September 4 in the Michele and Donald D’Amour Museum of Fine Arts. This must-see exhibit demonstrates the transformation of a traditional medium into breath-taking and visionary contemporary art.
Historically, washi—a sturdy and supple paper—has been used as a foundation for Japanese calligraphy, painting, and printmaking as well as a material in architecture, religious ritual, and clothing. In this exhibition, washi is the medium artists use for expressing their creative vision—layering, weaving, dyeing, shredding, folding, or cutting the paper into sculptural works of great beauty and power.
“The contemporary artists who created these pieces use washi in expressive and innovative ways that will captivate all who experience them,” said Maggie North, Curator of Art for the Springfield Museums. “We are overjoyed to share the extraordinary, visionary creations in this exhibition with our visitors.”
Washi Transformed presents more than thirty highly textured two-dimensional works, expressive sculptures, and dramatic installations that explore the astonishing potential of this traditional medium. “Some are so large that we had to come up with creative approaches to installation!” North said.
In the exhibition, 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. The breathtaking creativity of these artistic visionaries 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: Hina Aoyama, Eriko Horiki, Kyoko Ibe, Yoshio Ikezaki, Kakuko Ishii, Yuko Kimura, Yuko Nishimura, Takaaki Tanaka, and Ayomi Yoshida.
“These nine contemporary Japanese artists are revisiting their nation’s traditional material and elevating it into a medium for expressive and often spectacular works of art,” said Meher McArthur, Curator of Washi Transformed, which is a traveling exhibit organized by International Art & Artists.
“We always look forward to sharing remarkable art with our visitors,” said Heather Haskell-Burns, Vice President of the Museums and Director of the Art Museums, “and are especially excited that the intriguing pieces in Washi Transformed provide wonderful connections to the Museums’ important 19th century collections of Japanese art.”
The D’Amour Museum of Fine Arts has an extensive collection of Japanese prints, many printed on washi. The George Walter Vincent Smith Art Museum has an exquisite collection of 19th century Japanese decorative arts, including netsuke, utilitarian miniature sculptures which were hung on clothing and often depicted animals or people. “The abstraction presented in Washi Transformed is a marked contrast to the romantic realism of our collection items,” Haskell-Burns said. “Washi Transformed helps us explore the vitality and evolution of an art lineage deeply rooted in history.”
A 96-page companion book published by International Arts & Artists and Scala Arts Publishers is also available and can be purchased in the Hanmer Museum Store.
Washi Transformed: New Expressions in Japanese Paper was organized by Meher McArthur and is toured by International Arts & Artists, Washington, DC.
About the Curator
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). Above the Fold: New Expressions in Contemporary Origami was on view at the D’Amour Museum of Fine Arts from January 20, 2015–April 12, 2015, making Washi Transformed the second exhibition curated by McArthur and hosted by the Springfield Museums. 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.
International Arts & Artists in Washington, DC, is a non-profit arts service organization dedicated to increasing cross-cultural understanding and exposure to the arts internationally, through exhibitions, programs and services to artists, arts institutions and the public. Visit www.artsandartists.org
IA&A is proud to collaborate for a fourth time with Meher McArthur, curator of successful IA&A traveling exhibitions Folding Paper: The Infinite Possibilities of Origami (2012-2016) and Above the Fold: New Expressions in Contemporary Origami Art (2015-2020); and co-curator of Nature, Tradition and Innovation: Japanese Ceramics from the Gordon Brodfuehrer Collection (2016-2019).
Scheduled U.S. tour dates for Washi Transformed: New Expressions in Japanese Paper include: 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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About The Springfield Museums
THE SPRINGFIELD MUSEUMS are located on the Quadrangle at 21 Edwards Street in the heart of downtown Springfield, Massachusetts. The nationally accredited and Smithsonian-affiliated consortium of museums includes the Springfield Science Museum, the Michele and Donald D’Amour Museum of Fine Arts, the Lyman and Merrie Wood Museum of Springfield History, the George Walter Vincent Smith Art Museum, the Dr. Seuss National Memorial Sculpture Garden, and the Amazing World of Dr. Seuss Museum, the first and only museum dedicated to the beloved children’s book author and Springfield native.