Boro ("rags" or " tatters") are patchwork textiles hand-pieced by peasants in Japan in the 19th and early 20th centuries. The inability to cultivate cotton in the northern climate of Tohoku necessitated the practice of stitching used fabric into utilitarian items, including blankets, coats and mittens. These garments—reworked over generations—express essential principles of Japanese ethics and aesthetics, such as an appreciation for distinguished imperfections and the avoidance of waste, a subject central to the upcoming 2020 Summer Games. For the first time in the U.S., this exhibition assembles over 50 pieces from the personal collection of Chuzaburo Tanaka ( 1933-2016), a renowned folklorist and cultural anthropologist.
Kyoichi Tsuzuki is an editor and photographer whose photo-reportage Tokyo Style, first published in 1997, proposed a full immersion into the private lives of the Japanese through photographs and texts written by Tsuzuki. His works, while eloquently commenting on living conditions of ordinary people, do not reflect the distant gaze of a sociologist analyzing the world. Rather, Tsuzuki's seemingly banal photographs of everyday environments uncover the hidden value and beauty of textiles born out of necessity for survival in Tohoku.
Elizabeth Wilson, co-founder and owner of Asiatica, a fashion retailer that specializes in making artisanal clothing from vintage and contemporary Japanese textiles, will be in discussion with Thomas Murray, author of the recently published Textiles of Japan (Prestel, 2018). The conversation, which will center on boro and other Japanese textiles, will be moderated by Dr. Monika Bincsik of the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
This workshop introduces foundations of stitching, mending and patching boro textiles, offering a reinterpretation on the Japanese folk tradition. Artist Christina Kim explores this creative process as a personal history and meditation on repair and reuse.