NUNO: Japanese Tradition / Innovation (Baltimore Museum of Art)


Japanese Tradition / Innovation in Cloth
The Baltimore Museum of Art
Through October 7, 2007

Since 2002, the Baltimore Museum of Art has been acquiring a small but superb collection of textiles manufactured by Nuno, a technologically innovative company named for the Japanese word for “fabric”. The lead designer of Nuno, Reiko Sudo, succeeds in blending the traditional craft of weaving cloth with cutting edge technology. Nuno produces textiles with both synthetic and natural fibers, as well as metallic threads, papers, feathers, engineered fibers, and unusual objects. The company has helped to pioneer and perfect many processes such as lamination, flocking, heat pleating, deconstruction and distressing, heat and acid processing, and innovative printing. Fiber artists are adopting many of these techniques, including laminated felting (also called “Nuno felting”), a process of embedding wool roving into a sheer fabric such as silk organza. Other prominent examples of Nuno’s influence on studio art techniques are rust dyeing, foiling, transfer dyeing on synthetics, and weaving insertions into cloth.

Reiko Sudo categorizes Nuno’s techniques according to Japanese elements and illustrates each with impressive mastery and diversity in this exhibit. The unique fabrics shown are complex in both design and execution, and push the viewer to rethink the traditional relationships one has with “ordinary” fabric.

  • KIRA is that which glistens or glitters and is represented in this exhibit by her Scrapyard Series of fabric, printed by acetified metal objects left over time to rust, thus imprinting random designs; as well as Rubberband Scatter, which mimics real rubber bands strewn across fabric. These are screened onto cloth using a blend of acrylic and silicone.
  • SUKE’ is the nature of sheerness and fragility. This element is illustrated by Delphi, a pleated fabric colorized by pressing sheets of transfer dyed papers onto the polyester during the heat setting process. Copper Cloth has thin copper wire wefts and exemplifies Sudo’s talent for combining unique materials with traditional manufacturing to create a sheer, fluid metallic fabric. Slipstream is a highly textured fabric with thin strips of Mino washi paper that float between two layers of organza, accented with tiny woven squares.
  • BORO relates to the concept of roughness or cruelty. Fabrics are woven and then abused with acid, burning, pulling, ripping, and roasting; this creates dimension and richly textural surface design. Moss Temple is a modern version of a thick velvet sandwich, sliced apart and distressed for an impressive three-dimensional impact that lures the viewer into the piece.
  • FUWA is the element of softness and airiness. Woven garments and accessories are characterized by innovative woven textures and surfaces. Tsunami Shibori Scarf has a geographic look, which is achieved by squeeze dyeing, and then pinching the fabric through a cardboard pattern and heat setting the tufted surface.

The Baltimore Museum of Art is a gem in the heart of the city. It boasts a contemporary sculpture garden set along a path that winds through tiers of stonework, providing the visitor with different vantages of its art and landscaping.