July 19, 2014 by smithartonline
Anticipating an exhibition in England, I made up this piece, Kitsune Wedding, following a couple of guidelines. The size cannot be larger than an A3 size paper and the work will need to be rolled up, like a newspaper, at the conclusion of the show.
I decided to use a piece of plain muslin fabric to paint on. Referring to similar formats seen at the USC Pacific Asia Museum, I incorporated a carrier based upon traditional thangka paintings and lung-ta flags. Thangka is a traditional style of art in Tibet designed to be shown and then rolled up for storage. Coincidentally, the Norton Simon Museum in Pasadena currently has a huge thangka of Future Buddha Maitreya on display through 25 August. (There is an excellent podcast on their site presenting this thangka in detail). A lung-ta is a prayer flag popular in Tibet; it is an image usually on cotton fabric put out into the elements to degrade over time with the cotton threads blowing away into the wind and spreading the prayers associated with the flag through out the world…certainly something the world is in sore need of in these times…I suppose this has been true since the first humans showed up.
With all this said, my work is in no way meant to be especially religious, though the chosen image of the kitsune does have associations with the Shinto religion of Japan. This simply happens to be a Japanese folktale type of which I am fond.
I wanted to present a work with the look of a transitory nature. I left the edges of the muslin unfinished with threads showing. I also left the material wrinkled to take advantage of the material’s texture. Being cotton, at the end of the exhibition’s run it should roll up quite nicely.
The show in England will take place in November of this year, through the group Papergirl Blackburn. Work is exhibited for a week, then taken down, rolled up and given to passersby. The whole exercise fits in nicely with the Buddhist philosophy regarding the transitory nature of the world.
Hopefully whoever receives this will want it…considering the artist, it really isn’t terrible.