Lifestyle & Culture

Asian Culture and American Design at the Smithsonian Craft Show

April 17, 2018

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For an April 29 lecture at the Smithsonian Craft Show, textile scholar Ann Marie Moeller will discuss the kimono’s history and decode how it communicates information such as social class, marriage status, age, education, religious beliefs and a sense of humor through its design and patterns. / Photo courtesy of Anne Marie Moeller.

THE FOUR-DAY Smithsonian Craft Show is just two weeks away from its April 26 opening at the National Building Museum. Through the work of 120 American artists, the show will focus on the theme of how Asian art and culture have influenced contemporary American crafts and design.
Not only do attendees have the opportunity to meet and mingle with the artists, see imaginative work and score one-of-a-kind treasures, the cost of a ticket to the show includes craft demonstrations, a chance to enter a raffle to win a porcelain vase valued at $22,000, plus lectures and panel discussions on Japanese and Chinese art.

Japanese textile scholar Ann Marie Moeller has collected kimono since her student years at Harvard. / Photo courtesy of Ann Marie Moeller.

The lecture schedule includes “The Art of Ikebana Floral Design” (Friday, April 27, at 1:30pm). Bruce Wilson, a professor of comparative literature at St. Mary’s College of Maryland, who spends summers in Kyoto, Japan, studying the art of Japanese flower arranging, will demonstrate the ancient art, which dates back to the seventh century.

University of Pennsylvania professor Julie Nelson Davis will explain the history behind “Japanese Woodblock Prints and Painting” (Saturday, April 28, at 1:30pm), an art form that flourished from the 17th to 19th centuries, using the expressive images of kabuki actors and sumo wrestlers.

In her seminar “Japanese Kimono Textile Crafts” (Sunday, April 29, 1:30pm), Japanese textile scholar Ann Marie Moeller will decode kimonos. She’ll discuss how, thanks to skilled artisans, kimonos often rise to the level of art, as textile production continues to be a revered craft in Japan.  Many of the labor-intensive textile crafts still used to make modern garments have also inspired American textile craftspeople to create unique interpretations of this Asian garment.

Get your ticket for the show in advance and shave $3 off the price. The National Building Museum is located at 401 F Street NW. The nearest metro is Judiciary Square. Hours: Thursday, April 26, 10:30am. to 8pm.; Saturday, April 28, 10:30am to 5:30pm and Sunday, April 29, 11am to 5pm.
—Janet Kelly

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