Washi Transformed: New Expressions in Japanese Paper

I had the pleasure of visiting family in Florida during the Christmas holidays and even though the weather was about 40 degrees colder than I was hoping for, it was a really nice trip made even better by a visit to Morikami Museum and Japanese Gardens in Delray Beach. 

Before a walk thorough the tranquil landscape, my first stop was to see the exhibition, Washi Transformed: New Expressions in Japanese Paper. Beautifully presented in three rooms are thirty works by nine paper artists from Japan, France, and the United States. Enjoy this small sampling:

vivid pink knotted mizuhiki sculpture

 Ishii Kakuko (Japan)

Japanese Paper Strings Musubu R [detail], 2012


As the companion catalog states: Historically, washi paper has been used as a base for Japanese calligraphy, painting, and printmaking as well as a material in architecture, religious ritual and clothing. In recent years, contemporary Japanese artists have turned this supple yet sturdy paper into a medium for expressing their artistic vision – layering, weaving, dyeing, shredding, folding, or cutting the paper to form abstract sculptures, lyrical folding screens, highly textured wall pieces, and dramatic installations.
Ishii Kakuko created a series of mizuhiki (pigmented washi) cord sculptures. The woven base of each one gives structure, whereas the strings are much looser toward the top, giving a nest-like impression that connects art to nature. 
dark grey wall onto which a group of vivid pink identical woven paper sculptures are displayed
  Ishii Kakuko (Japan)

Japanese Paper Strings Musubu R, 2012

Nishimura Yuko's background in architecture is evident in her exploration of abstract 3-D pleated forms. She is also known for pleated paper wall art, examples of which are seen in this photo as well.


pleated abstract 3D paper sculpture on display and positioned in front of wall of three additional circular pleated paper sculptures
Nishimura Yuko (Japan)

Continuous Form, 2020


Hanging Sail by Ibe Kyoko is described as a celebration of "the power and beauty of the single sheet of washi paper." Nineteen sheets of reinforced kozo (mulberry fiber) washi are connected to give the sense of sails on old sailing ships.

hanging sculpture composed of connected white paper sheets

Ibe Kyoko (Japan)

Hanging Sail, 2020


A large-scale work by Tanaka Takaaki pays tribute to the nest - a starting point of many species of animal life. Mulberry fibers are applied to stretched threads, resulting in a strong sculpture of modular units.


floor display of rust-colored woven 3D squares positioned close together into a larger square

Tanaka Takaaki (Japan)

Land of Nest, 2019

A second work by Ibe Kyoko is a pair of six-panel folding screens composed of aged gampi paper that she recycled into pulp and mixed with sumi ink, mica, and indigo. Documents, such as old tax and marriage records, are collaged onto each screen. The effect is that of waves against a dark sky with words floating above them to suggest "their continued presence in our world today despite the passage of time."


large folding paper screens in shades of blue and neutrals

Ibe Kyoko (Japan)

Morning Glory #2, 2017


Washi Transformed: New Expressions in Japanese Paper is on display through April 2, 2023.


rectangular raked Zen garden surrounded by green plantings

raked Zen garden at Morikami

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Ann Martin
Ann Martin

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  1. You always found the most interesting paper art. I look forward to every post and newsletter. Thanks!


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