Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Naming the Maker: washi world summit wrap up

Washi World Summit wrap up panel. left to right: visiting paper makers from Japan,#1 Hiroshi Tamura from Ino- machi in Kochi Perfecture, #2 Hiroaki Imai from the Niigata Prefecture, # 3 Shinji Hayashi from Kurotani, the artist from the Toronto School of Art exhibition who's first work on washi impressed the paper makers and organizers ( i apologize for forgetting her name), Mary Sue Rankin; director of Edward Day Gallery in Toronto, Hidden man (the Morki Paper Company who's name I didn't write down) Artist Deb Olden from Savannah Georgia and standing with microphone is Nancy Jacobi.

On Saturday June 14th 2008 at the Japan Foundation during the final panel discussion the reality of this summit hit home. The exhibitions of the Washi World Summit provided a visual adventure, however, the presence of washi remained constant but undefined. During the Summit the creation of washi was demonstrated, and its usage in a variety of media by a number of artists was explored, but it wasn’t until the paper makers themselves spoke at the wrap up of what the event meant to them that all became clear. Earlier that week at the Textile Museum Hiroko Karuno during her talk about Shifu (paper weaving) said there were 10 people in Japan practicing Shifu, on Saturday night one of the paper makers from Japan Shinji Hayashi said when he came to Kurotani 12 years ago, a village with the longest consecutive history of paper making had 30 households involved in paper making; now there are just 3.

These declining numbers are alarming and underline the urgency of addressing the current state of traditional washi production in Japan.

In last week’s blog entry I had said this event seemed to be about print making rather than the paper and paper making. With events such as this I assume it is oriented towards the general public so they/we can meet the artist, see demonstrations and learn how things are done. This event did work in this way but there was an element that hadn’t occurred to me. The three paper makers that were brought from Japan to demonstrate their traditional practice were given the opportunity to develop a view of what their output added to the larger art world by Nancy Jacobi. Many artists work in isolation but not many artist works involves as much geography, land to cultivate or locate the plants they use for their production. The amount of time involved in producing the work is enormous, then they put it out for the public to view and consume. The papermakers whose work is produced in a natural time frame of growth, harvest, processes then sent out into the world. What happens after that is up to who ever purchase it and there is not a built in system of critique or feedback. This event has provided that opportunity and as each of the papermakers made clear in their comments about the Summit it was a opportunity of great importance.

Brain storming has began, Ideas for an exchange show where bantered about, one audience member brought up the idea of getting LEED certification for washi (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) It was realized that the naming of the paper makers, their region, and type of paper should become a standard component of documentation identifying art work

I am sure Nancy Jacobi will keep the information flowing .

Woven Jacket by Mildred Avendano: cotton warp, hand spun paper weft,
on display at Kozo Studio 257 Broadview Avenue

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