I’ve just posted new documentation of Noise and Codex series to my website.
The School of Craft + Emerging Media Presents
Artist Talk by Mackenzie Kelly-Frère | Monday, March 31 in room 532 at 1230 pm
Mackenzie will be speaking about his current research and Frequency, a recent exhibition of hand woven textiles in Kyoto Japan.
ALL ARE WELCOME (email me if you are coming and I’ll arrange fifth-floor access.)
Mackenzie Kelly-Frère is an artist, writer and educator currently living in Calgary, Canada. He was educated at the Alberta College of Art + Design (BFA 1998) and Nova Scotia College of Art & Design University (MFA 2005). Mackenzie currently teaches in the Fibre Program at the Alberta College of Art + Design where he is also the Associate Chair of the School of Craft + Emerging Media. He has also contributed texts to various Canadian and international publications including Craft Perception & Practice Vol III and recently to Textile: The Journal of Cloth and Culture. Mackenzie’s work has been exhibited in Canada, China, Japan, Korea and the United States.
Mackenzie wishes to acknowledge the support of ACAD and the Faculty Professional Affairs Committee.
I am involved in a variety of events coming up at ACAD in the next few weeks…
TOMORROW MARCH 19, I will be presenting on some of my current research along with my colleague Jennifer Salahub as part of the ACAD Liberal Studies Speaker Series. Our talks begin at 1230 in room 520 at ACAD.
THURSDAY, MARCH 20 is the closing reception for ACAD’s Fibre Fortnight and Mini Show and Silent Auction from 5 until 630 pm in ACAD’s Main Mall. The exhibition is really great this year and includes work across a variety of media including silk-screen, mixed media, video, weaving, papermaking and a lot more. (Bids for the Mini Show close at 6 pm and there are some amazing works to be had!)
ALSO ON THURSDAY, MARCH 20 I am moderating an alumni panel discussion titled Underwater Basket Weaving: Risk, Entrepreneurship and Strategies for Success. This event is hosted by the Fibre Program and the School of Craft and Emerging Media. We have a really excellent panel of Alumni working in a variety of media including:
- Natalie Gerber (Fibre)
- Kari Woo (Jewellery + Metals)
(Kari and Natalie collaborate on the New Craft Coalition)
- Tim Belliveau (Glass) from Bee Kingdom
- Jennie Vallis (Media Arts + Digital Technologies), a new media designer, interdisciplinary artist and member of Studio Cartel
- James Jensen (Print Media) from Atom Graphics
This event begins at 7 pm in the Stanford Perrot Lecture Theatre and promises to be an engaging and illuminating conversation with some of our best and brightest.
Finally, on MONDAY MARCH 31, I am giving an artist talk at 1 pm in the ACAD Boardroom (off the main entrance) about my recent trip to Japan and my exhibitions Frequency and Air Over Land at GalleryGallery in Kyoto.
All are welcome to all events. (Email me if you are interested in tomorrow’s talks as I will have to meet you to bring you upstairs to the fifth floor.)
After paying a visit to the Daibutsu we walked uphill towards Nigatsudo Hall where they were preparing for Omizutori, a series of Buddhist repentance rituals performed yearly for the past 1250 years.
Temporary bamboo fencing was being expertly rigged to contain the crowds expected for Otaimatsu.
Among the many different events held during Omizutori, Otaimatsu is the most famous and spectacular. Just after sunset on every night from March 1 through 14, giant torches, ranging in length from six to eight meters, are carried up to Nigatsudo’s balcony and held over the crowd. The burning embers, that shower down from the balcony, are thought to bestow the onlookers with a safe year. Read more…
Although we were there just a little too early for Otaimatsu, it was fun to imagine what the event would be like to experience in person.
The view from the balcony at Nigatsudo’s balcony is spectacular.
Just beyond Nigatsudo Hall on the path heading down towards the city we encountered a shop selling sumi sticks and stones made in Nara. I was thrilled to see different varieties with a violet or indigo cast to the black colour.
The shop manager was very helpful pointing out the differences between the sumi sticks and stones. I ended up buying several different ones for marking my threads for weaving. As we were leaving I turned to Kris because I wasn’t sure I had heard the man correctly. “How old did he say this shop is?” I asked.
“434 years I think?!” Kris replied. Once at home we did a search and found a fascinating article on the history of Kobaien, sumi and calligraphy in Nara.
This being February 24, it was far to early to see any wisteria, but just as with Otaimatsu we used our imagination.
I mentioned previously that Kristofer’s parents met us in Japan. They were in Kyoto for several days and it was great fun to show Kim and Ron a few of our favourite spots in and around Kyoto. One of these places was Nara.
Nara is home to Todaiji a temple complex and home to the world’s largest wooden structure and a massive bronze buddha or Diabutsu. People take a lot of pictures at Todaiji and so did we…
A final note on the deer of Nara. There are a lot of them hanging around the city begging for shika sen-bei (special crackers that can be purchased around Todaiji and elswhere in Nara).
According to official Nara signage these deer aren’t as cute as they first appear and “occasionally attack”?!
Even with all this bad behaviour it was a comfort to see that even the surliest of Nara’s deer have friends.
More on Nara tomorrow…
Next to the GalleryGallery main space are two rooms with approximately 100 showcases featuring small works created by internationally renowned Japanese masters and emerging artists and designers. This is the Showcase Gallery.
For someone interested in Japanese textile art in particular it is a treasure trove. Each time I visited my exhibition I would spend a little time in the Showcase Gallery exploring.
I will share a few images of the artists’ work here and encourage you (and especially my students) to click on their names to see more of their work.
Frequency closes today (In Japan it is March 8 already) and I thought the best way to mark the end of the exhibition would be with a BIG thank you to gallery director Keiko Kawashima. Thank you Keiko-san for all of your assistance, encouragement and on-the-fly translation that made my first exhibition in Japan a memorable experience.
A few days after the opening reception for Frequency, I had the opportunity to visit textile artist Jun Tomita’s studio. This visit was instigated by felt artist and one-woman Kyoto welcome wagoneer Jorie Johnson (thank you Jorie!), who accompanied Kristofer and I into the mountains west of Kyoto…
Jun Tomita’s studio is located in a renovated greenhouse.
Recently, the artist has been working on a series of obi using a painted warp technique. The warp is drawn off the loom and stretched across the space so a design can be painted onto the appropriate places. Two reeds (one with a removable bar at the top) keep the spacing during dyeing and help with registration.
Pattern is added only to places on the textile that will show when worn with kimono. Well known for his exquisite kasuri hangings, weaving obi is an exciting new venture for Tomita.
Tomita’s studio has a variety of looms including this one (below) constructed by the artist using perforated angle-iron and an old Jacquard punch-card device.
Tomita took the tension off this piece in progress so that we could see the hand-painted pattern more clearly. In this and the other obi, he is using silk in both warp and weft.
The view from the entrance to Tomita’s studio.
On the way back to Kyoto we stopped at Fushimi for a beautiful meal in the sake brewing district. A slow walk back to the train provided the perfect end to a marvellous day.
Thanks to Jorie and Kristofer for taking some of these images.
Kristofer filled almost two sketchbooks on our trip (including a few drawings of Jun Tomita’s studio) and has started posting them on his website.
While in Tokyo I visited Tokyo Sky Tree. In the lobby of the Sky Tree plaza entrance is Super Craft Tree designed by Yukio Hashimoto. I couldn’t help but notice that each of the programs in ACAD’s School of Craft + Emerging Media were well-represented…
Gallery EX is GalleryGallery’s experimental space where I was able to install the textile pieces and some images created for Air over land. This was a good opportunity for me to show these artifacts from this project and give a Japanese audience some context for my work.
What I did not expect was that these forms would be recognized as koi-nobori or carp flags typically flown for Children’s Day in Japan.
I am currently working on a video work related to this project and will be posting excerpts to my website. It is my plan to produce a larger scale projection/installation of this work sometime in the future.
Soon Kris and I will be leaving Kyoto and cannot believe we have already been here for almost two weeks! I am trying to catch up on posts and will be posting more over the next couple days. In the meantime Here are a few shots of the Frequency in the main space.
(Professional quality documentation will be posted to my website in a month or so.)
Frequency and Air over land in the EX space continue at GalleryGallery until March 8.
On Sunday, I visited Nobuko Hiroi at Gallery Keifu to see her exhibition 切り、、、結ぶ (Cut , , , Tie). Proving that the world of textile artists is a bit like pleated cloth, Nobuko and I realized we both know Naoko Furue, my MFA studio advisor at NSCAD University!
Nobuko Hiroi’s weaving in 切り、、、結ぶ (Cut ,,, Tie) was exquisite and meticulous. With its embroidery, off-loom-woven details and spare use of dip-dyeing, the largest piece in the exhibition (shown here) astounded me more than once. The apparent simplicity of this work dissolves when one realizes that Hiroi’s minimal approach is grounded in a deep knowledge of cloth. Thank you Hiroi-san for discussing your work with me!
Last night Keiko Kawashima hosted a reception for Frequency at GalleryGallery. In a single evening I met some of Japan’s most respected, international textile artists and reconnected with a few I met on my last trip to Kyoto. The experience was a little overwhelming as I have been following the careers of many of these artists since I learned to weave in 1994. Thank you to everyone who came to see the show and talk about textiles with me this evening including: Machiko Agano, Yasuko Fujino, Shihoko Fukumoto, Nobuko Hiroi, Jorie Johnson, Yoriko Murayama, Chiyoko Tanaka and Jun Tomita (apologies to anyone I may have missed). I also want to thank Kim and Ron Kelly (Kris’ parents) for joining us at the reception – it means a lot to have you both here in Japan! Following the reception we had a delicious Chinese meal just down the street where Kris received fermentation tips from Fukomoto-san and Agano-san. The whole thing was a little surreal actually, an evening I won’t soon forget.