‘Kimono!’ exhibit at MWPAI draws crowd

‘Kimono!’ exhibit at MWPAI draws crowd

Observer-Dispatch — Though the “Kimono! The Artistry of Itchiku Kubota” exhibit landed at the Munson-Williams-Proctor Arts Institute in June, its outreach has turned out to be global.

The exhibition has brought in people from places like California, Nevada and Minnesota, according to the MWPAI. Brian Goldbeck, a retired state department Foreign Service officer, will be visiting in September from Santa Fe, New Mexico, to see it.

“I bought one of the posters of the exhibition when (the exhibit was in) Washington, D.C.,” Goldbeck said. “And in fact, it has traveled around the world with me over the course of my career.”

“Kimono! The Artistry of Itchiku Kubota” is a series of artistically crafted kimono, or old customary Japanese dresses, made by artist Itchiku Kubota. They are each portraits of the natural world — like the seasons and the universe.

While the kimono together create a landscape, the individual pieces are intricately detailed, sometimes to their specific threads.

“When you see … how painstakingly slow and detailed the work is just to make a small section … it’s really a work of love and dedication and professionalism,” Goldbeck added.

The exhibition has traveled to 10 countries, including the United States. It was at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C., in 1996, San Diego in 2008 and Ohio in 2009.

The exhibit will remain at the MWPAI until Sunday, Sept. 16.

“The exhibition has shown to have universal appeal,” said Anna D’Ambrosio, president and CEO of the MWPAI. “It’s a privilege to be the only United States venue, and we are overjoyed that so many people are coming to take advantage of this special opportunity.”

From the perspective of someone in the Handweavers Guild of America, the layered techniques are an art form vastly different from a painter’s work.

Sally Orgren, the editor of Shuttle, Spindle and Dyepot and a handweavers guild member, viewed the collection in July with a colleague from Florida. To her, the collection was “hard to describe” because it works on many levels.

One of the levels is the panoramic view of the kimono, which depict vast scenes. The other is in the details — like each individual snowflake in the winter scenes.

“The conceptualization of these pieces and then the execution are just mind-boggling to anyone who is a microfiber artist,” Orgren added. “It’s pretty astounding.”


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