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Folding Into Shape: Japanese Design and Crafts

Sep 18 2021 – Sep 25 2022

Seattle Art Museum

Third Floor Galleries

Creating three-dimensional objects by folding, layering, and weaving two-dimensional materials is a core concept in Japanese design and crafts. Focused on these three techniques, this installation presents objects from the museum's permanent collection and private holdings, ranging from textiles and paintings to ceramics and bamboo baskets.

The kimono is the most recognizable garment of Japan. It is composed of three rectangles: two sleeves and one torso piece. Unlike tailored Western clothing, kimono are folded to fit the body. Contemporary fashion designers, such as Issey Miyake, embrace this tradition. In Miyake’s origami dress, flat fabric folded into geometric shapes expands into a three-dimensional structure only when it is put on the body.

Layering is another essential element in kimono attire. Multiple layers create ever-changing combinations of texture, color, and pattern, as showcased by the examples of under-kimono and outer layers, as well as the contemporary ceramic vessel evoking multi-layered kimono, pictured here.

With one humble material—bamboo—Japanese artists have produced a large body of fiber art. Weaving bamboo strips is similar to sewing with thread but goes a step beyond. The resulting three-dimensional bamboo sculptures encompass a great variety of patterns and shapes.

This installation was made possible by
ArtsFund and the Guendolen Carkeek Plestcheeff Fund for the Decorative and Design Arts
Japan Foundation, Los Angeles

Bundle, 2019, Tanaka Yu, matte-glazed stoneware, Gift of Gordon Brodfuehrer in honor of the Monsen family, 2020.21.3, photo by Richard Goodbody, Courtesy of Joan B Mirviss LTD.

Seattle Art Museum acknowledges that we are on the traditional homelands of the Duwamish and the customary territories of the Suquamish and Muckleshoot Peoples. As a cultural and educational institution, we honor our ongoing connection to these communities past, present, and future. We also acknowledge the urban Native peoples from many Nations who call Seattle their home.

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