October 10, 2021 through January 2, 2022

Scheller Gallery

Kyoko Ibe, Once Upon a Time #1, 2011, Washi (Japanese handmade paper), Image courtesy of Heather James Fine Art, © Kyoko Ibe

Washi, which translates to “Japanese paper,” has been integral to Japanese culture for over a thousand years, and the strength, translucency, and malleability of this one of-a-kind paper have made it extraordinarily versatile. Historically, washi has been used as a base for Japanese calligraphy, painting, and printmaking; but when oiled, lacquered, or otherwise altered, it has other fascinating applications in architecture, religious ritual, fashion, and art.

The thirty-five artworks and installations in Washi Transformed show the potential of this traditional medium in the hands of innovative artists who have made washi their own. Using a range of techniques—layering, weaving, and dyeing to shredding, folding, and cutting—nine artists embrace the seemingly infinite possibilities of washi. Their extraordinary creations—abstract paper sculptures, lyrical folding screens, highly textured wall pieces, and other dramatic installations— demonstrate the resilience and versatility of washi as a medium, as well as the unique stature this ancient art form has earned in the realm of international contemporary art. The creativity of these visionaries deepens our understanding of how the past informs the present, and how it can build lasting cultural bridges out of something as seemingly simple and ephemeral as paper.

Eriko Horiki, Washi Light Object TANE, 2017, Washi paper and resin mold, light fixture (steel), Image courtesy of the artist, © Eriko Horiki.

Featured image: (1) Hina Aoyama, Voltaire, 2007, Black origami paper, Image courtesy of the artist, © Hina Aoyama., (2) Kakuko Ishii, Musubu W1, 2007, Washi paper (Mizuhiki), Image courtesy of the artist, © Kakuko Ishii.

Members Exclusive Washi Tape Workshop

December 4, 2021 | 1-2:30pm

Inspired by Washi Transformed, members are invited to join instructor and artist Anthony Smith to create washi art.

Registration is required. Materials will be provided.


Washi Transformed Exhibition Catalog

By Meher McArthur, Hollis Goodall, Zachary Marschall

Historically, washi paper has been used as a base for Japanese calligraphy, painting, and printmaking as well as a material in architecture, religious ritual and clothing. In recent years, contemporary Japanese artists have turned this supple yet sturdy paper into a medium for expressing their artistic vision – layering, weaving, dyeing, shredding, folding, or cutting the paper to form abstract sculptures, lyrical folding screens, highly textured wall pieces, and dramatic installations. This elegantly designed volume examines the extraordinary creations of these diverse contemporary artists from Japan, France, and the United States. The publication also demonstrates the resilience, versatility, and unique stature of this ancient artistic medium in the realm of international contemporary art.


In the News

Washi Transformed: New Expressions in Japanese Paper was organized by Meher McArthur and is toured by International Art & Artists, Washington, DC

Washi Transformed is supported through the generosity of the Audrey and Bernard Berman Family Fund and the Leon C. and June W. Holt Endowment.