February 2 – 20, 2016
Please join us on Sunday, February 7, from 4 to 6pm at the Wedeman Gallery for the Artists’ Reception of our new exhibition – Twisted Again: The New Kumihimo. The show features the work of 5 leading contemporary artists, working in this ancient Japanese technique – Lyn Christiansen (Massachusetts, US), Jacqui Carey (Devon, UK), Makiko Tada (Tokyo, Japan), Hiroko Ojima (Kochi, Japan), Helen Vonow (Adelaide, Australia), and Jennie Parry (Leicester, UK). The exhibition is curated by Lyn Christiansen. Light refreshments will be provided.
Follow the tracks of the ancient caravans and nomadic peoples throughout the world and you will find braids – fiber interlaced on the bias to make strong bands, belts, and cords needed to make everyday life possible. Using natural fibers of different shades, wonderful patterns emerged. When traders came to a natural stopping point, like the Island of Japan, various stands to make the braids were invented and perfected making possible more and more complex braids using dozens of bobbins of many colors in multiple layers. The Japanese word for making these complex braids is “Kumihimo”.
While there is no census, and there are many braiders and ways to braid, maybe only 100 or so people in the world work at the advanced levels of Kumihimo. In the making, there is a great sense of connection with the past and pleasure in rediscovering and perfecting the traditional patterns and working with the silk made in Japan only for work in Kumihimo. But for some, Kumihimo is also a path for innovation and personal expression. It becomes not just a technique but an art medium. We celebrate this group in this show.
Our show brings together the work of six artists using the Kumihimo braiding techniques, all of whom are innovators with a unique voice. This first in the US show combines work from four continents: Australia, Japan, the UK, and the US. When you come to the show, you will have a unique opportunity to listen in on the conversation between individuals and cultures as seen through these works. Some follow an engineering approach – inventing new braid structures to create never-before-seen patterns and effects. Others follow a more evolutionary approach, experimenting with the process to see what will emerge as a piece grows. While the traditional silk is still much in evidence, all of the artists experiment with different materials and fibers including paper, monofilament, and wire. Some want some functionality in their work and so have gone in the direction of fashion applications, true wearable art. Others have left functionality and focus on art expression. But no matter the direction of exploration, these works all exude the joy and delight of discovery.