PRINTS AND COLLAGES
Paper Threads: 2014 - present
When I visited Tokyo in May, my mom asked me to repair their shoji- window by patching with gampi ( beautiful strong handmade paper). Of course, that was my favorite job, because it relates to my work.
My working process is about mending and patching by reusing or recycling old paper or fabric from Japan.
Early this Spring, I had a change to experiment with paper-making using cotton, Belgium flax and denim fiber at the Morgan Conservatory in Cleveland. The fragments of thin enameled ( fused ground glass)on copper( etching plate) and Intaglio prints were embedded between layers of thin paper fibers. I am particularly interested in the beauty of translucency and imperfect uneven edges in handmade paper.( Please see the enamel section to find the piece titled “ Fusion NO.22”, handmade paper with enamel on copper)
Boro is Japanese for tattered clothes that are patched or mended. The beauty is in the fabric’s imperfection and aesthetically becomes more appealing over time.
In the Edo period (1603-1868), farmers wore natural dyed indigo because they thought it had magical properties and protected them from mosquitoes and snakes.1
Later in the Edo period, Indigo color- kasuri kimonos , seen in the Ukiyo-e prints,became quite fashionable. The popularity was direct response to the strict sumptuary laws of the period. Originally only commoners(working class) could wear these Boro colors (blues, grays, blacks and browns).2
Since I first saw Boro ( antique Japanese indigo-dyed cotton textiles from the countryside) three years ago, it has been an inspiration for my artwork.
Textures from old remnants of fabric from my grandmother were transferred or drawn onto etching plates and printed on paper and silk and then stitched together in free form into collages. Included in some of my Boro designs are my grandmother’s sketches(solarplate etching and sumi ink).
1David Sorgato, BORO, maphalda edizioni, Milano, Italy, p.7 (2004)
2Wendy Moonan, Japanese Coats of Many Colors, The New York Times Friday, March 22, 2002
When I started working at the Japanese print gallery seven years ago, I discovered some worm eaten Japanese book pages in an antique woodblock print book in the gallery storage area.
I was so fascinated looking at the nature of the paper. Wormholes usually make old prints less valuable. However, for an artist like me, they have become wonderful materials for my artwork. These irregular mushi-kui have subtle, delicate textural beauty. I am very interested in working with the tactile quality and simplicity, which relates to the wabi–sabi* aesthetic from Japan.
Over the last few years, I worked on this series, titled, " Journey through MUSHI-KUI . It was peaceful and meditative for me to work on this collage. This 100- year- old book talks about the history of Japan. During the making of the artwork, I could imagine I was traveling through the Mushi-kui to visit different time in the past.
*Wabi- Sabi is the quintessential Japanese aesthetic. It is the beauty of things imperfect, impermanent, and incomplete. Wabi is the beauty to be found in spareness and simplicity.
Worms ate the great old Japanese papers because these papers were made from wonderful kozo (mulberry trees), good quality, purely natural paper, very tasty!
Kaki-shibu ( persimmon dye) has been added to some of my latest wormhole collages.
In ancient times, in Japan, persimmon juice was used to make stencils, washi paper and fabric materials more durable. (example: paper umbrella)
My grandmother’s nickname is Baba. Baba started sewing when she was around forty years old. It was after World War ll when there were not enough clothes for her three children. As a child, I always watched my grandmother sewing clothes for our family. Threads, needles, buttons, wooden bobbins and fragments of cloth were my favorite toys. I used to imitate her sewing with them. Now as an artist, I use stitching with thread as a form of drawing in my collages.
Baba is ninety six years old now. Every time I visit her in Tokyo, the fabrics and dress patterns which she had drawn by hand with pencils are passed on to me for my artwork.
Recently, I started to experiment with printing using etched plate on silk kimono fabric. I then sewed these fabric prints together with my prints on paper and old early 20th century remnants of Japanese katagami stencils. The stencils have a rich dark brown color because they were soaked in persimmon juice to strengthen them for use as stencils. Over time, the color becomes darker the more the stencil is used.