The Floating World
The Floating World
March 20 - May 11, 2023
Reception: April 25, 3:30 - 6 pm
The Floating World celebrates Japanese art and culture alongside the Japanese Cultural Festival (April 24 and 25) at Heartland Community College. This exhibition features the artworks of 2 Japanese artists and 2 local artists whose art is informed by Japanese art and culture.
The Floating World celebrates Japanese art and culture alongside the Japanese cultural festival at Heartland Community College. This exhibition features the artworks of 2 Japanese artists and 2 local artists whose art is informed by Japanese art and culture.
This exhibition showcases how a single culture influenced 4 different art practices with the hope to inspire its audience to seek further understanding of Japanese culture on their own. The common thread among these four artists is a focus on the emotional or mental experience of existence. Looking at the works, there is something hard to grasp fully. You feel transcendency, something beyond what you are actually seeing.
Nishiki Sugawara-Beda is a Japanese-American visual artist based in Dallas. She was born and raised in Japan and currently is an Assistant Professor of Art at Southern Methodist University.
Erika Shiba is a Japanese printmaker born and raised in Hong Kong. She holds a BFA from Parsons School of Design, New York, and an MFA from Illinois State University, Normal, IL in Printmaking.
Jenny Knavel is a Wisconsin-based artist who holds an MFA from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 1997. She is currently a professor of art at Western Illinois University in Macomb, Illinois. Knavel will also conduct a demonstration on Shibori indigo dyeing techniques on April 24 as part of the Japanese Cultural Festival.
Cathie Crawford is a Peoria-based printmaker who holds a BFA from The Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio, and an MFA from Bradley University, Peoria, Illinois in 1987.
These artists have very different practices and also different connections with Japanese art and culture.
Sugawara-Beda’s focus is on painting and installation. Connecting across space and time, she experiments with ancient Japanese materials and techniques including Sumi ink, Kakejiku landscapes, and rice paper. Growing up in Japan in which all kids learn calligraphy at school, calligraphy is very important in her practice. She states: “Calligraphy has become an entry point to understanding my own culture as it allows me to recognize the existence of underlying meanings in all forms—language, images, even the mundane interactions of being. This craft provides the foundation and inspiration for my practice.”
Record-keeping, journaling, home(s), cryptology, and memory are at the core of Shiba’s practice. Her main interest currently is in memory and its delicate nature. She records, questions, and reflects on her own memory and creates ciphers to represent this process using printmaking techniques and graphite drawings. She explains: “I believe that spaces are vessels for memories and experiences. In my work, I memorialize these intangible moments that I remember from my home(s) by symbolizing them using obscure forms and structures. I see these landscapes I create as a collection of “memory souvenirs” - bits and pieces from my personal history.”
Knavel’s works are an investigation and fusion of cross-disciplinary and cross-cultural concepts of beauty. She was influenced by European historical and scientific botanical photography, Japanese screen painting and kimono patterns, and American quilt blocks.
Crawford’s work is a convergence of color, line, shape, and texture in an ambiguous space with whispers of the landscape. She was influenced by the Ukiyo-e Masters of 19th century Japan and prints on handmade Japanese Kozo paper with oil base relief inks and the aid of a Dickerson Combination press. She states: “The Japanese artists of this Ukiyo-e period produced beautiful color woodcut prints. Ukiyo-e means “Floating World of Everyday Life”. These artists created wonderful atmospheric effects in their landscapes and seascapes, which I greatly admire. More than anything else, the Ukiyo-e sense of color and composition inform my work.”
This exhibition honors Japanese art, culture, and the variety of influences it has had on these artists, alongside the beauty and creativity in each artist’s works.
The Floating World is curated by Shahrbanoo Hamzeh, Heartland Community college gallery coordinator.