Six decades in the making
The annual print show is one of the organization’s most popular and lucrative fundraisers. Earnings go directly to support a wide-ranging slate of programs and services, including Fukushima earthquake relief, traveling scholarships, English classes for children, and programs for the visually impaired.
For the first print show in Tokyo in 1956, the members of CWAJ collaborated with American art critic Oliver Statler, who, through his book Modern Japanese Prints: An Art Reborn, was one of the first international critics to give serious consideration to contemporary Japanese printmaking. The artists included in that first exhibition were proponents of the “creative print” movement in Japan, known as sosaku hanga. These artists combined centuries-old printmaking techniques with individuality and freedom of expression. This was in sharp contrast to the production of ukiyo-e in the 19th century, when artists were often limited by the desires and directives of their publishers. CWAJ used the earnings from this first show to fund its nascent travel grant program.
What started out as a small event in the 1950s has grown, according to Dean, into one of the most respected international print exhibitions. Works by established master printmakers—Toko Shinoda, Tadashi Nakayama, Tadanori Yokoo, Reika Iwami, and Michiko Hoshino, to name a few—are juxtaposed with pieces by emerging artists such as Sohee Kim and Satomi Tanaka.
The kanreki is known in Japan as a rebirth, providing a moment to reflect on past history and achievements—a fitting theme for Highfield’s anniversary celebration. Indeed the exhibition is a framework for much of Highfield’s programming throughout the 2016 season, including a farm-to-table cooking series with Japanese flair; bonsai and ikebana demonstrations; a bento box workshop; and a children’s program focused on Japanese crafts and culture.
Dean says the show, which opened in June, appeals to a wide audience. “Because of the diversity of style and subject matter in the prints, there is literally something for everyone to fall in love with,” she says. “If you’re planning a visit, come and spend the day at Highfield. The show is extensive; our grounds are perfect for a picnic, the woods for a stroll, and the gardens and outdoor sculptures for contemplation.”
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