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Expanding Frontiers: The Jack and Susy Wadsworth Collection of Postwar Japanese Prints

In 2012, Jack and Susy Wadsworth donated 157 modern and contemporary Japanese prints to the JSMA. This remarkable collection, featuring woodblocks, intaglios, lithographs, screenprints, and mixed-media works by seventy-seven Japanese and Western artists, significantly augments the museum’s capacity to teach about Japanese graphic art from the late twentieth- and early twenty-first-centuries. The collection showcases contemporary Japanese artists not just as inheritors of the much-celebrated Edo-period (1615-1868) woodblock tradition, but as sophisticated international masters of various printmaking techniques. Curated by Anne Rose Kitagawa, JSMA Chief Curator of Asian Art and Akiko Walley, Maude I. Kerns Professor of Japanese Art, Department of the History of Art and Architecture, this special exhibition explores a range of contemporary print techniques – aquatint, etching, intaglio, lithography, mezzotint, silkscreen, stencils, and woodblock printing – as well as a great range of subject matter.

Coinciding with the preparation for this exhibition, Professor Walley offered two courses geared for undergraduate and graduate students. In fall 2014, with generous support from the Tom and Carol Williams Fund for Undergraduate Education, Professor Walley taught a class in collaboration with the JSMA and Charlene Liu, Associate Professor of Printmaking, and Mika Aono, Printmaking and Fibers Studio Technician, both members of the UO’s Department of Art. That course explored the history of contemporary Japanese prints with a focus on their techniques. Students learned about prints by carefully scrutinizing examples from the Wadsworth Collection, through lectures and readings, and by learning to make their own prints using the four major techniques of relief, intaglio, lithography, and screenprinting.

In winter 2015, Professor Walley and Chief Curator Anne Rose Kitagawa team-taught a museum-based course in which sixteen undergraduate and graduate students studied Japanese contemporary prints along with aspects of museum curatorship and exhibition planning, design, and installation. In addition to focusing on the Wadsworth prints in weekly research assignments and class discussions, students learned from museum professionals, print dealers, and collectors in a series of guest lectures and field trips. The fruits of the research that the students conducted in these two classes form the core of this exhibition. Indeed, the final installation reflects many of the ideas that they raised in discussions and assignments, and a number of the students contributed label copy and catalogue entries based on the original research they conducted for their final projects. With generous support from the WLS Spencer Foundation, a number of the students further deepened and refined their research in order to provide public tours of the exhibition.
Relevant research areas: East Asia, 20th Century

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