Mokuhanga Wrap Up

It’s been interesting to see what individuals and organizations find their way to the Drachen Foundation’s doors and it proved out again as interaction at the Foundation led Ali Fujino and I to participate in the first International Mokuhanga Conference (IMC) in Kyoto, Japan. Ali, in learning more about mokuhanga (traditional Japanese woodblock printing on damp paper) attended classes taught by Richard Steiner of KIWA (Kyoto International Woodblock Association), who suggested we take part in IMC.

Kite by Nobuhiko Yoshizumi

Never the one to miss an opportunity, Richard convinced Ali, KIWA should have a kite component and the first KIWA kite exhibit was born. With sponsorship help of McClain’s printmaking supplies, Cullom Gallery, and Hiromi Paper International, artists were solicited to submit woodblock prints that I would make into kites for the exhibit. Over twenty works were accepted and sent to Japan, where they were tastefully and expertly displayed by Steiner and Kyoto kite maker, Nobuhiko Yoshizumi. 

In the words of Richard Steiner: “Happy faces were the rule for the kite display. Everyone knows about kites, but no one had every seen a display of them in a major exhibition like this. So many visitors had their picture taken with the kites as a background. We had a little over 1,200 visitors, a museum record for this kind of exhibition.”

This exhibit ended prior to the beginning of the IMC, but the kites were shown to the IMC participants during an “open portfolio” session scheduled within the conference. 

As for the Mokuhanga Conference, here is a group much like our kite world; small, international, and passionate about their art. It is a group that has a variety of linkages within; teacher-student relationships, country-to-country relations, and personal friendship to name a few. But from my observation, it is a group that does not actively look outward for new participants. So here was an opportunity for the Drachen Foundation to talk about kites – not only as a possible artistic pursuit for these artists – but as a real object, made in Japan throughout the history of mokuhanga techniques. For novice printers like Ali and myself, it was an eye-opening experience where new techniques were discussed and demonstrated, but for experienced members of the group there were numbers of workshops, valuable for topics covered – teaching mokuhanga in school art curriculum, making this art accessible in remote areas, and publicizing the value of this art to the public. All of these are discussions similar to those that might take place at an AKA Convention.

With our artist friend Chris Yuengling Niles, from Los Angeles, the Foundation will continue to offer workshop opportunities to learn mokuhanga and kites. A workshop is currently scheduled at Hiromi Paper International on September 11, 2011 led by Yuengling and myself for students, teachers, kite makers and the public. 

Special awards of McClain Printmaking and Hiromi Paper International gift certificates for ten artists were awarded to:

Annie Bisset, Northampton, Massachusetts
Erin Curry, Gainesville, Florida
Mark Rice, Providence, Rhode Island
Peter Russo, Portland, Oregon
Erin Schiedler, Seattle, Washington
Ellen Tavolacci, Redding, Connecticut
David Thompson, New Haven, Connecticut
Binky Walker, Seattle, Washington 
Jean Womack, Richmond, California
Christine Yuengling Niles, Los Angeles

Kites by Scott Skinner

The kites are now safely back in Seattle, and will be exhibited in the Cullom Gallery this fall. A catalog of the kites is in the works and will be released with the exhibition.

Thank you all for making this kite print project a successful one!

Scott Skinner and Ali Fujino, Drachen Foundation, Seattle, Washington