The Fabric of Life showcases Academy textiles in five exhibitions

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July 10, 2008 - November 16, 2008
Gallery 22


Exhibition Overview

This year the Textile Society of America holds its Biennial Symposium in Honolulu September 24 to 27. In conjunction with this convergence of textile experts from across the country, the Honolulu Academy of Arts will feature The Fabric of Life, five special exhibitions from the textile collection—many of the pieces will be on view to the public for the first time.

In addition, the Academy Art Center at Linekona presents an exhibition of internationally known fiber artists whose works push the textile envelope.

Indonesian Batik From the Christensen Fund Collection
July 10-October 5, 2008 ||| Gallery 22

Batik printed on machines is a dime a dozen in shops now. To think that the incredible detail in the 19th-century batiks on view in this exhibition were done by painstakingly "drawing" with wax will just blow your mind.

In 2001, the California-based Christensen Fund gave the Honolulu Academy of Arts more than 1,600 textiles that have a major emphasis on Indonesia, and represents all significant island groups of the Archipelago, as well as the region’s major textile types and techniques. Included in the collection are more than 300 eclectic batik pieces, mainly from the North Coast of Java, that reflect the area’s mix of Chinese, Islamic, European, and Javanese cultures. On view will be a survey of these batiks, including finely detailed pieces made under Chinese influence at the court center of Cirebon, marvelously refined pieces in the tradition of Dutch ateliers around the Pekalongan area, buket (flower bouquet) designs created by well-known modern artists such as Oey Soe Tjoen, prestigious silk batik pieces from the Rembang area, and, finally, classic turn-of-the-century bang biru (red and blue) cloth that is dyed in the famous mengukudu red from Lasem. It's practically the entire cultural history of Indonesia on fabric. Whether you're into textiles or not, this is an engrossing exhibition.

Bright and Daring: Japanese Kimono in the Taisho Mode
July 23-October 5, 2008 ||| Gallery 20

If you saw the popular exhibition Taisho Chic: Japanese Modernity, Nostalgia and Deco at the Academy in 2002 (it’s now on view at the Art Gallery of New South Wales in Sydney), you know that the Taishô era (1912-1926) was a unique period in the history of Japanese design. That applied to textiles, whose visual motifs, newly introduced from Western modern art, merged with Japanese tradition to create kimono of daring design. Via mechanized spinning and weaving and chemical dyes introduced from Europe, these designs were applied to mass-produced women’s silk kimono. You can see the influence of European and American Art Deco in the strikingly graphic, colorful images. Simultaneously, small classic Japanese motifs were dramatically enlarged to make dynamic visual statements. Each kimono attests to an energetic, free spirited era.

Blue and White:  Indigo-dyed Japanese Textiles
August 28-October 5, 2008 ||| Gallery 21

In the Honolulu Academy of Arts’ famous collection of Japanese ukiyo-e woodblock prints, often illustrated are garments made of handwoven cotton dyed the natural color of indigo. You can see men and women, priests, innkeepers, teahouse maids, farmers, and fishermen clad in serene, simple blue cotton outfits, the standard garments worn by commoners of this period. On view will be futon covers, noren and other items made from indigo-dyed textiles.

Earth and Sky: Chinese Textiles from the Academy’s Collection
July 23-November 16, 2008 ||| Gallery 16

The Academy has more than 800 examples of Chinese textiles, from auspicious wedding attire to fanciful children costumes, from tapestries to rare Qing Dynasty imperial robes. This exhibition will explore the Chinese dynastic doctrine of the five phases, which established close numerological and moral correspondences between man and nature. The Chinese dynastic universe was typically ordered in five directions, each often identified with a color, an element, an animal, or a season. Included in the show will be a group of rarely if ever seen Chinese garments from the Academy’s collection along with a selection of recently acquired pieces. 

All About Art: Textiles
September 11-August 9, 2009 ||| Museum Learning Center, Gallery 31

The exhibition serves as an interpretive tool to textiles found throughout the museum. All About Art: Textiles will look at textiles as cultural artifacts and art objects, as well as fill visitors in on the materials, processes, and techniques used to make textiles. On view will be rarely seen objects and artifacts from the Academy’s collection. The exhibition will feature an interactive area where visitors are encouraged to touch, feel, and try their hand at making textiles. The Art Studio will be open for textile-related art projects. 

Tattered Cultures:  Mended Histories
September 6 - 28 ||| Art Center at Linekona

This invitational contemporary fiber art exhibition showcases works by 22 international fiber artists who are members of the Textile Society of America. The exhibition explores how dominant ideologies of a specific time and place often tatter the cultural heritage of the less dominant and culturally diverse. Artists whose works are featured in the exhibition include Euni Figi, Wendy Kawabata, Kim Jeeun, Chunghie Lee, Lisa Lee Peterson, Seiko Purdue, Denise Robinson, Lisa Solomon, Gail Tremblay and Consuelo Jimenez Underwood.

Tattered Cultures: Mended Histories is curated by University of Hawai'i Assistant Professor and Fibers Area Chair Mary Babcock in collaboration with Academy Art Center Curator Carol Khewhok.