The Museum of Craft and Folk Art (MOCFA) in San Francisco on Yerba Buena Lane is proud to present a traveling exhibition co-organized by Japan Society (New York), Tama Art University (Tokyo), and International Textile Network Japan. Fiber Futures: Japan’s Textile Pioneers explores a new art that is emerging from a remarkable fusion of Japanese artisanal and industrial textile making. Coaxed from materials as age-old as hemp and newly developed as microfilaments, a varied array of more than 25 works by artists from multiple generations will be on view in this extraordinary two-part exhibition.
By transcending and cutting across the limitations imposed by the inherited oppositions between art, craft and design, this two-part exhibition brings together over 20 contemporary Japanese artists who are active at the cutting edge of the global fiber-art movement, transforming fabrics into sculptures, pictures, emulations of nature, or even abstract meditations on memory and identity. The materials range from silk, cotton, recycled cocoons, antique paper scraps, jute, and hemp to stainless-steel wire and weaving and dyeing technology, often with the goal of expressing an environmentally sustainable ethos.
While the spirit of a Japanese sensibility and a technical virtuosity hewn over centuries is everywhere evident, what best characterizes the work on view is “a thirst for experimentation, whether it be in the search for the unconventional material or in the fusing of seemingly opposing extremes of old and new,” remarks MOCFA director Jennifer McCabe.
MOCFA curator Natasha Boas comments, “In keeping with the Museum’s commitment to showing traditional craft as it emerges in innovative contemporary forms and representations, the medium of fiber in this exhibition is used to express ideas about nature and sustainability as well as personal and cultural identity. Fiber Futures is leading-edge and we are very fortunate we can share it with a Bay-Area audience.”
“These works remind us that important art need not always be about rebellion or subversion,” notes Joe Earle, Director of Japan Society Gallery and curator of the New York showing of the exhibition. “For most of the artists represented here, it is the material that tells them what to do next, in the spirit of tariki, originally a Buddhist term meaning the ‘power of another.’”
“The very qualities that are unique to fabric inspire me and my fellow artists to try to move beyond mere technical mastery to create daring and beautiful works of art,” says Hiroko Watanabe, a professor at Tama Art University, president of International Textile Network Japan, and an artist represented in Fiber Futures. The exhibition is a juried show organized by Japan Society and International Textile Network Japan in collaboration with Tama Art University Museum in Tokyo.