Washi Transformed: New Expressions in Japanese Paper – International Arts & Artists

International Arts & Artists (IA&A) is pleased to announce the launch of Washi Transformed: New Expressions in Japanese Paper, the first traveling exhibition to focus on washi as fine art.

Celebrated for its durability and utility, washi has gained international recognition from conservationists and crafters alike. While most are familiar with “washi tape,” as seen on numerous blogs and social media, few know of its traditional origins, laborious production process, and cultural significance.

“At a moment in popular culture when washi paper is finding its way into craft stores and YouTube tutorials, Washi Transformed deepens our understanding of the history, making, and creative potential of washi as seen through the thirty-seven innovative works created by the artists featured in the exhibition,” says Edward Hayes, Director of IA&A’s Traveling Exhibition Service.

Washi, which translates to “Japanese paper,” has been integral to Japanese culture for over a thousand years, and the strength, translucency, and malleability of this one-of-a-kind paper have made it extraordinarily versatile as well as ubiquitous. Historically, washi has been used as a base for Japanese calligraphy, painting, and printmaking; but when oiled, lacquered, or otherwise altered, it has had many other fascinating applications in the fields of architecture, religious ritual, and fashion.

The works seen in Washi Transformed epitomize the astonishing potential of this traditional medium in the hands of these innovative artists. Using a range of techniques—from layering, weaving, and dyeing to shredding, folding, and cutting—these nine artists embrace the seemingly infinite possibilities of washi. Visitors will encounter abstract paper sculptures, lyrical folding screens, highly textured wall pieces, and other dramatic installations—all demonstrating the resilience and versatility of washi as a medium, as well as the unique stature this ancient art form has earned in the realm of international contemporary art.

“Japan has a long and rich history of papermaking and its papers are some of the finest and strongest in the world,” says curator and art historian Meher McArthur. “At a time when many of us worldwide have turned away from paper in favor of screens and digital media, these nine contemporary Japanese artists are revisiting their nation’s traditional material and elevating it into a medium for expressive and often spectacular works of art.”

Washi Transformed is available to tour nationally from May 2021 through December 2024, and will feature thirty-seven works and installations by nine contemporary Japanese artists: Hina Aoyama, Eriko Horiki, Kyoko Ibe, Yoshio Ikezaki, Kakuko Ishii, Yuko Kimura, Yuko Nishimura, Takaaki Tanaka, and Ayomi Yoshida.

For more information about Washi Transformed: New Expressions in Japanese Paper, visit artsandartists.org/exhibitions/washi-transformed

Categories: Traveling Exhibitions