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March/April 2001


A New Aesthetic:
Reflective Fabric Sculpture

by Junichi Arai & Junco Sato Pollack
.Installation view at the Swan Coach House Gallery showing Junco Sato Pollack's works: from left, Origami #4, 2000, sublimation and folds on polyester organza, 18 feet by 36 inches; Origami Cubes, 2000, sublimation, heat crimping, lamination, and stitches on polyester organza, each 18 by 18 by 18 inches; Sky/Clouds/Wind, 2000, devoré, sublimation, shibori, and heat crimping on metallic polyester, 18 feet by 50 inches; Kesa #6: Samskaras, 2000, sublimation on polyester organza, 97 by 54 inches; Sky/Clouds, 1999, devoré, sublimation, and shibori on metallic polyester, 15 feet by 50 inches.

Two extraordinary fiber artists of international acclaim came together to present their work in "A New Aesthetic: Reflective Fabric Sculpture by Junichi Arai & Junco Sato Pollack." The exhibition, curated by Marianne B. Lambert, ran from August 23 to September 30, 2000, at the Swan Coach House Gallery in Atlanta.

Considered one of the masters in contemporary textile art, Junichi Arai has had a profound influence on modern fiber art, as well as on techniques for weaving with metallic fibers. He is both mentor and colleague to Junco Sato Pollack. Both artists are pioneers in exploring and applying the latest in technology to manipulate and color fabric. They meld old and new methods, old handwoven fabrics with synthetically produced materials, and in doing so, create works with spirit and life. The small exhibition of stunning sculptural pieces was a showcase of their efforts--all shimmering light and color.

The intimacy of the Swan Coach House Gallery allowed the viewer to move among the pieces, several draped from ceiling to floor. So airy are the works that they swayed even in the seemingly imperceptible current created by a person's passing by. Several pieces hung near vents, and they rippled in the air-conditioning breezes.

Both artists are technically superb. A common element in the works of the two Japanese artists was their method of using a heat transfer process for coloring synthetic and metallic fabrics. The pieces in "A New Aesthetic" displayed a range of possibilities for sculptural creations using this method. Arai presented intense, dramatic works--dark and shot with silver, made three-dimensional through a heat process.

He also presented large sculpted, brilliantly colored, and glowing hangings, such as Red/Gold/Black and Shibori Crincle Wave, a ceiling-to-floor piece in which it seemed glistening pale liquid spilled down a richly textured, purple shadowed curtain--like moonlight on a purple sea. His work bursts with drama and energy. He has said that "ingenuity, creative spirit, and passion" must guide creative efforts and that an artist "must use available technology--in no way different from the way people did in the past."

Junichi Arai, Akamuru red/gold/black (detail), 1982; poly-amid coated polyester and wool/nylon; vacuum deposition, dye sublimation, shibori, devoré, acid dyeing; 10.5 feet by 34 inches.

Junco Sato Pollack's work is calm and meditative yet speaks with a quiet energy. She, too, presented large gossamer hangings. Her Sky/Clouds/Wind of polyester and organza, is a pale ephemeral piece that allows the viewer to find images in its film-thin sculpted surface.

Pollack's "origami" hangings are fired with intense color and intricate design. "My art takes its shape in fabric, light, and shadow," she comments. She says she begins a work with "an intimate hand-manipulation of the fabric: creasing, binding, pressing, shaping, pinning, and stitching," achieving a quiet meditation through the repetitive motion "while relying on a spontaneous and serendipitous articulation." Her origami works included hangings as well as three-dimensional cubes.

Also in the exhibition were several of Pollack's "kesa"; works, based on the form of Buddhist monks' ceremonial stoles. She collects used fabrics, cleans and dyes them with plants, cuts them apart, and sews them back together in a vertical and horizontal composition. They are symbolic of "the wisdom of the human civilization that taught ways to cultivate and to live in harmonious accordance with nature," she explains.

Junichi Arai began as a weaver in his family's kimono and obi weaving factory in Kiryu, Japan. He lives and works in Japan. Junco Sato Pollack now lives in Atlanta and is an associate professor of art at Georgia State University. The artists are currently collaborating on a large-scale metallic sculpture installation for the River Center for the Performing Arts in Columbus, Georgia.

- Judith Schonbak

Judith Schonbak is a freelance writer in Atlanta. She covers the arts and business for print, online, and television media.

This review first appeared in:

Mar/Apr 2001

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