ALLENTOWN, PA – It’s an exciting time at the Allentown Art Museum.

Washi Transformed, New Expressions in Japanese Paper is just days away from opening. The team therefore very carefully unpacks and installs 30 pieces by nine very different artists.

But what exactly is Washi?

“Washi has been made in Japan for over 1,000 years and used for arts like calligraphy and printmaking, and these artists are taking it in new directions,” said curator Claire McRee.

The exhibition is an explosion of colors, textures and plunging lines. This will leave you wondering – how did they do this?

McRee says the Washi fibers are made from mulberry bark, perfect for creations like one called Land of Nest.

“And you know there really are these boundaries between geometry, but it also has a feeling of something more organic that you would find in nature,” McRee said.

If the contemporary aspect of the exhibition catches the eye, it is the subtle nods to time and tradition that can surprise, like the work of Yuko Kimura.

“She picks out worm-eaten pages in historical documents, historical books like an astronomy textbook for example, and you know she really celebrates the lacy and delicate textures they have,” McRee said.

During our visit, only a handful of exhibits were assembled.

Staff say that’s the fun part, carefully playing their part in creating an exhibit that will wow a curious crowd.

The exhibition opens October 10 and runs until January 2.


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