My husband and I are members at the Allentown Art Museum and I am sure you remember some previous visits I have described. They put on a lot of interesting exhibits as well as offering activities in which you interact with the collection (remember the Valentine’s Day scavenger hunt?)
We went to museum on Saturday, October 9, for the members’ preview of a new exhibit, Washi Transformed (which opens on October 10 and goes until January 2, 2022).
I also signed up for the members only art activity to be led by a local artist, Anthony Smith.
We arrived at our timed ticket reservation spot at noon and viewed the exhibit first. All I can say is, Wow! and that I will be returning to look at the art again. There is so much beauty and intricacy, it will take me more than one time to take it all in, I think.
I’m not going to write a lot about the art but instead show you some of the works. Although here is the introduction statement in the gallery, which can give you some background.
All of the art involves washi papers in one way or another, and as you can see, there are a lot of ways it can be used to express form, emotion, and just something beautiful to look at. The exhibit is laid out in two rooms upstairs, one larger than the other.
I took a lot of photos, more than usual. With my eyesight problems, I cannot always take in the details well. I thought if I had photos of the works, I could study them better at home, especially when it came to small details, that I could enlarge.
Here are some items from the larger room.
This large structure featured indigo-dyed paper panels suspended as you see in the photos. You could go inside. To me I felt as if I were in a sky full of stars.
This is a detail of a framed work in which the artist had pleated the paper and then dyed it indigo so that there were patterns left by the pleats – then cut the paper into squares and sewed them, like a quilt.
These large panels are a traditional Japanese form. The lamp in the second one is also constructed of paper.
This grouping was my favorite of the show. I love the colors. And the array looks like a school of happy fish to me.
These two pieces were made by the same artist who did the “fish”. The orange one is quite large and made of attached repeating sections; the little green one (that looks like a building to me) is at the opposite end of the scale.
The soft glow and the gentle shapes of these rounded lamps gave me a feeling of peace.
Here is a view of the second room:
And here is a close-up of one of that group of red sculptures to the right.
The same artist made these bowls; the paper fibers start off at the bottom as being in a braided pattern, very tight, and then blossom out into the free-form look at the ends.
And here is my other favorite in this show (yes, guess I had two favorites…) – this group of white organic forms, also made by the same artist (as the red group and the bowls). The forms are made int the same fashion – braided and woven tightly at the bottom and relaxing into their wild-haired personas at the top.
I loved looking at this group. It’s just beautiful and I liked the idea of restrained growing into free.
To me it was a metaphor for my life – when I was younger I was held in by many restrictions and responsibilities. Now—I let go, or things drop away, and though it is not always a happy process, it is a freeing one, too.
Then it was time for the art activity. My husband did not attend – he looked around at other exhibits for a while and then went out for a short walk around town.
I went into the activity room right off the main exhibit room. We sat down at tables – here is mine (including my purse, it looks like).
I’m going to be honest, I am not exactly sure how the activity fit in with the washi exhibit (though we did use some washi tape). But it did not matter, because I had a great time and so did everyone else.
Essentially, I believe the link was that we were working with paper and using it to create art, in this case, collages. The instructor had some people templates for us to use as figures in our compositions (one of whom looked like Carl Sagan, as the instructor pointed out, and after that everyone who used that figure referred to their character in that way) – setting them in an environment, clothing them, etc.
Everyone fell to work and found it absorbing and fun, I think.
I tried very hard to follow directions but I was unable to do so, and since I have reached my antique age I feel less and less worried about the implications when this happens (though I do try not to disrupt the class, because I know from teaching classes myself, it is hard to cope with a student who goes off on a tangent and is loud about it). I did stick with the theme of a figure, but I got drawn away by the magazines we were using – Bazaar, and all its clothes and people! Here is the final result:
Then, since I had some time left, I went on to the second suggested activity, a vertically-laid-out landscape, loosely following Japanese landscape principles, maybe or maybe not…
At the end we displayed our work – here is some of it:
Thank you to the Allentown Art Museum for this exhibit and all that it brought to me. I found the exhibit works to be beautiiful and prompting reflection. And, for the activity group, I just really enjoy being in a group that has the hum and buzz of people contentedly creating art.