This exhibition is focused on these three artists, all with strong ties to both Japan and the US. Each artist finds great inspiration in nature, and, it seems, particularly in their own local environments. Of the two artists I am familiar with, and I will assume the third as well, they all make work that expresses the best material qualities of the wood, clay and silk, allowing the materials to empower the piece. If you have a chance to get to DC to check it out, do.
Trio of Elements is an exhibition at the Japan Information and Culture Center Gallery in Washington, DC. The opening reception is June 24th at 6:30 pm and there will be a lecture featuring all three of the artists. I happen to be friends with Tadao Arimoto and must say that his work is gorgeous. Born in Nara, Japan in 1949, Tadao’s work is inspired by nature. He has some really interesting ideas about how objects record time and how he tries to make his work conducive to that process. His work really allows for a connection to the materials in a tactile way. Tadao also uses local wood from his area of residence in western PA. I bought a couple of wooden plates at SCC’s store that he made. They were glossy black and highly textural and I learned about the process. I am going to butcher this, but basically he rough cut the plate and used a billowy torch flame to blacken the wood and burn down the soft wood pulp, leaving the harder grain pattern raised. I don’t have a picture of my plates, but here is an image from his website of a great table:
I think that he made all new work for the exhibition, so it should be a real treat!
Willi Singleton is also a highly skilled artist who produces exquisite wood-fired pottery in traditional forms. On his website Willi explains how he was introduced to wood-firing during an apprenticeship in Tamba, Japan. Naturally, this experience colored his aesthetic and perspective on pottery and he returned to the US 5 years later to set up a wood-fire pottery in eastern PA. He utilizes many local materials for his glazes and even for his clay body. Having had the opportunity to handle his work in SCC’s Store, I can say that it is substantial. It’s not overly heavy by any means, but it has a heft to it. The work in person appears stately and dignified, if I may attribute such qualities to a pot, while also being quite functional and accessible. Here is a picture from his website:
I am not familiar with the third artist in the exhibition, Yoichi Nakajima, who works in silk. The exhibition description says, “Using handspun thread from carefully selected Japanese silk worms and natural dyes, Tokyo?s Yoichi Nakajima reconstructs historic silk brocade. His work is used to enhance the beauty of collections in museums across the US.” I would expected that the work is equally as enticing as that of the other two artists.?