East Asia Library hosts exhibition on "Japanese Functional Objects"

April 19, 2022
Joshua Capitanio
Hokusai image of artisans working near Mt. Fuji

The East Asia Library is hosting an exhibition of student projects from the Winter 2022 course, Japanese Functional Objects (JAPAN 126/226), currently on view in the second floor display cases. 

This exhibit revolves around work made by students in a recently completed course, Japanese Functional Objects (JAPAN126/226, Winter 2022). Students’ ensembles of hand-built ceramic flower vessels and hand-joined wood have been augmented by dried-flower arrangements by Momoyo Lowdermilk, and are supplemented by objects on loan from additional course instructors: Ariel Stilerman, Craig Milroy, Hideo Mabuchi, Jay van Arsdale, and Jason Forster.

The main premise of Japanese Functional Objects has been to introduce students to aesthetic dimensions associated with object function — as opposed to abstracted form — combining conventional modalities of classroom instruction with hands-on work in a ceramics studio and wood shop. Students explored the material affordances of clay, grappled with the demanding technical heritage embodied by traditional Japanese hand tools for woodworking, and reflected upon how such tacit knowledge deepened their appreciation for craft.

While Japanese Functional Objects is neither a skills class nor a projects class, students made things as they learned. We invite you, the viewer, to contemplate all objects on display in terms of both function and expression.

Japanese Functional Objects and this exhibition were made possible by the Product Realization Lab, Center for East Asian Studies, Department of East Asian Languages & Cultures, East Asia Library, and a generous gift from the Halpern Family Foundation.

The exhibition will be on view at the East Asia Library during Spring Quarter 2022.

Image: Katsushisa Hokusai 葛飾北斎 (1760-1849), "Tōtōumi sanchū 遠江山中"