Washi Transformed | Mingei International Museum
On View

Oct 14, 2023 - Jan 7, 2024

Curated By

Organized by Meher McArthur and toured by International Arts & Artists, Washington, D.C.

"Washi Transformed" presents over thirty highly textured two-dimensional works, expressive sculptures, and dramatic installations that explore the astonishing potential of this traditional medium.

For over 1,000 years, Japan has produced some of the world’s finest paper, using strong natural fibers and exceptional production techniques passed down through the generations. Japanese handmade paper, known as washi (和紙) is still made in some areas of Japan and used in painting, calligraphy, origami, and other traditional art forms.  

Recently, contemporary Japanese artists have been turning to this supple yet sturdy material, using it as a medium for creating highly textured two-dimensional works, complex sculptures, and dramatic installations. Employing techniques ranging from layering, weaving, and dying, to twisting, folding, and cutting, these artists demonstrate the endless contemporary applications of this ancient material.  

This exhibition, Washi Transformed, focuses on washi as a medium for contemporary art in Japan and spotlights the works of nine very different contemporary Japanese artists who are exploring the artistic potential of this traditional material. The artists – Hina Aoyama, Eriko Horiki, Kyoko Ibe, Yoshio Ikezaki, Kakuko Ishii, Yuko Kimura, Yuko Nishimura, Takaaki Tanaka, Ayomi Yoshida – all push the boundaries of Japanese washi art in terms of texture, dimension, and scale, creating works that challenge our assumptions about the nature of the material. Their abstract paper sculptures, lyrical folding screens, dramatic installations, and highly textured wall pieces all demonstrate the resilience and versatility of washi as a medium in the realm of international contemporary art.  

Washi Transformed: New Expressions in Japanese Paper was organized by Meher McArthur and is toured by International Arts & Artists, Washington, DC. It is on view at Mingei International Museum from October 14, 2023 – January 7, 2024.  

Photo Credit: Eriko Horiki, Washi Light Object TANE, 2017, Washi paper and resin mold, light fixture (steel), Image courtesy of the artist, © Eriko Horiki.

Press Materials

Featured Work

Hina Aoyama, Les Papillons, 2010, Black origami paper, Image courtesy of the artist, © Hina Aoyama.
Takaaki Tanaka, Boat Island (detail), 2018, Kozo (mulberry fiber paper), flax, iron, Image courtesy of the artist, © Takaaki Tanaka.
Kakuko Ishii, Japanese Paper Strings Musubu R, 2012, Washi paper and pigment, Image courtesy of the artist, © Kakuko Ishii.
Eriko Horiki, Washi Light Object TANE, 2017, Washi paper and resin mold, light fixture (steel), Image courtesy of the artist, © Eriko Horiki.

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