I recently had the pleasure of seeing two remarkable art exhibitions at small museums in South Florida. These very different exhibitions show what’s possible when innovative curators decide to avoid blockbuster exhibitions and focus on revealing unknown or little-known artists and art forms.
Washi Transformed, New Expressions in Japanese Paper, is now at the Morikami Museum and Gardens. The exhibition showcases nine contemporary Japanese artists transforming traditional Japanese handmade paper (washi) into abstract sculptures and installations.
The image above is by Kyoko Ibo, who was one of the first artists to use traditional washi as a medium for contemporary art. By introducing unusual textures, scale, and dimensions, she transforms an ancient medium into modern art. All of the artists marry the old and the new in a way that honors and preserves the past.
The second exhibition, Art of the Hollywood Backdrop, at the Boca Raton Museum of Art, features scenic backdrops painted for the movies by real artists working between 1938 and 1968. The exhibition celebrates “Hollywood’s masters of illusion and perspective” who have received little recognition for creating backdrops for well-known movies such as North by Northwest and The Sound of Music.
These painted backdrops had been rolled up and stored in the basement of MGM studios and then preserved as the Hollywood Backdrop Collection at the University of Texas. The exhibit pairs the actual backdrops, some 90 feet wide, with videos from the movies they animate. The real art and the illusion, side by side, make us fully appreciate the talented artists of this long forgotten art form.
Such exhibitions open a window into worlds of artistic innovation we would not have discovered on our own. The real unsung heroes are the museum curators who made these exhibitions possible.
Mary Edwards, Ph.D
Career & Life Coach for Artists
“Left Brain Skills for Right Brained People”
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