- November 1 - December 16, 2023: Threads: Stories and Histories Through Textiles
- January 13 - March 10, 2024: Floating Beauty: Women in the Art of Ukiyo-e
- February 1 - March 29, 2025: Personal to Political: Celebrating the African American Artists of Paulson Fontaine Press
- October 6 - December 15, 2025: Resilience: A Sansei Sense of Legacy
In Threads: Stories and Histories through Textiles, we meet four artists from different walks of life who use the material qualities of fibers and woven panels to tackle larger subjects. While strength, flexibility, and the process of attaching and detaching give textiles a practical role in everyday life, these same characteristics provide apt metaphors for encountering displacement, injustice, and adversity. Featured artists include Maria-Theresa Fernandes, Baltimore, MD; Lahib Jaddo, Texas Tech University, Lubbock, TX; Anthony Pabillano, Houston, TX; and Michelle Talibah, New Door Creative Gallery, Baltimore, MD.
Floating Beauty: Women in the Art of Ukiyo-e examines historical perspectives on women and their depiction in art in Edo Period Japan (1615 – 1858). Made up entirely of woodblock prints created in the ukiyo-e style, this exhibition highlights female characters in literature, kabuki theatre, and poetry; the courtesans and geisha of the Yoshiwara district; and wives and mothers from different social classes performing the duties of their station, in order to gain some insight into the lives of women in pre-modern Japan.
In the tradition of ukiyo-e, women are most often represented in the bijinga (“pictures of beautiful women”) genre. This was the feminine ideal, and these beauties were passive, attentive, and demure. Looking beyond the bijinga, this exhibition shows that women in Edo society took an active role in their own lives, and this fact is echoed in the literature and drama of the period. Over fifty woodblock prints will be featured in the exhibition, including works by ukiyo-e masters Suzuki Harunobu, Kitagawa Utamaro, Katsushika Hokusai, Utagawa Kunisada, Kikugawa Eizan, and Utagawa Hiroshige. The entire exhibition is taken from the permanent collection of the Reading Public Museum.
There is no singular way to address the conversation of race and representation in contemporary art. The artists of Personal to Political: Celebrating the African American Artists of Paulson Fontaine Press capture the personal narratives and political battles of African American artists across the country, reflecting a collective experience expressed in uniquely individual ways. In addition to numerous prints from Paulson Fontaine Press, this show includes paintings, sculptures, and quilts that include both narrative and abstract imagery. Paulson Fontaine Press has a long tradition of supporting both established and under-represented artists who, in their studio practice, work in a broad reach of media and conceptual approaches.
Edgar Arceneaux, Radcliffe Bailey, McArthur Binion, Gee's Bend Quilters (Louisiana Bendolph, Mary Lee Bendolph, Loretta Bennett, Loretta Pettway), Lonnie Holley, David Huffman, Samuel Levi Jones, Kerry James Marshall, Martin Puryear, Gary Simmons, Lava Thomas.
In 1942, in response to the bombing of Pearl Harbor by Japanese forces, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed into law Executive Order 9066. The law ordered the forced imprisonment of all Japanese Americans living on the west coast of the United States, which has the second largest population of Japanese people living outside of Japan.
Following the US’s deployment of EO9066, similar laws were enacted throughout Latin America as well. In the years following the order’s retraction at the end of WWII, expatriate Japanese families and individuals were forced to come to terms with lost property, the shame and indignation of incarceration, and the task of re-integration into a society that had expelled them. After their release from the incarceration camps that dotted the American West and Midwest during the war, Japanese Americans used the phrase Shikata ga nai—it cannot be helped—and the word gaman—to persevere and stay silent—to speak to their resilience against the losses they incurred at the behest of Roosevelt’s order.
Told from the point of view of Sansei (third generation) Japanese Americans, Resilience—A Sansei Sense of Legacy is an exhibition of eight artists whose work reflects on the effect of EO9066 as it resonated from generation to generation. While several of the artists in Resilience employ traditional Japanese methods in the construction of their work—Lydia Nakashima Degarrod’s use of boro stitching on her works on paper; Na Omi Judy Shintani’s kimono cutouts honored in ceramic vessels—others use iconography relating to Japanese culture as a jumping-off point for personal explorations on the subject of the incarceration camps—Reiko Fujii’s photographs-as-kimono; Wendy Maruyama’s columns of replicated camp ID tags. Each in their own way, the artists in this exhibition express moments of deeply felt pain and reluctant acceptance, emotions which were often withheld by their elders.
Exhibition artists are: Kristine Aono, Reiko Fujii, Wendy Maruyama, Lydia Nakashima Degarrod, Tom Nakashima, Roger Shimomura, Na Omi Judy Shintani, and Jerry Takigawa.
Co-curated by artist Jerry Takigawa and Gail Enns, Resilience was conceived to serve as a catalyst to cultivate social dialog and change around the issues of racism, hysteria and economic exploitation still alive in America today. The eight artists featured in Resilience were selected because of their personal connection to the subject matter, because their work is well respected within the Japanese American community as well as within the art world, and because of their activism on the subject of incarceration camps.
Takigawa and Enns explain, “The Sansei generation is perhaps the last generation of Japanese American artists that can be directly connected to the WWII American concentration camp experience—making their expression particularly significant in clarity of emotion. These artists lived through the years of “gaman” or silence about the camps. That silence made a deep impression on the artists selected for Resilience.”
About the Curators:
Gail Enns is the director of the nonprofit arts management organization Celadon Arts (founded 1998, Monterey, CA). Evidenced most recently by Resilience, Enn’s curatorial focus throughout her 30-year career has included the interaction between art, community, and some of the more challenging aspects of the human condition.
Jerry Takigawa is an independent photographer, designer, writer, and the co-founder of the annual PIE (Photography + Ideas + Experience) workshop series held at the Center for Photographic Art in Carmel-by-the-Sea, CA. A third generation Japanese American, Takigawa is a proponent of design as a tool for effecting radical shifts in human thought.