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Tanaka Yū featured in latest Seattle Art Museum exhibition

Folding Into Shape is on view through September 2022

Tanaka Yū featured in latest Seattle Art Museum exhibition

Antiques and The Arts Weekly | February 25, 2022


Seattle, Wash. - Creating three-dimensional objects by folding, layering, and weaving two-dimensional materials is a core concept in Japanese design and crafts. Focused on these three techniques, this installation presents objects from the museum's permanent collection and private holdings, ranging from textiles and paintings to ceramics and bamboo baskets.

The kimono is the most recognizable garment of Japan. It is composed of three rectangles: two sleeves and one torso piece. Unlike tailored Western clothing, kimono are folded to fit the body. Contemporary fashion designers, such as Issey Miyake, embrace this tradition. In Miyake’s origami dress, flat fabric folded into geometric shapes expands into a three-dimensional structure only when it is put on the body.

Layering is another essential element in kimono attire. Multiple layers create ever-changing combinations of texture, color, and pattern, as showcased by the examples of under-kimono and outer layers, as well as the contemporary ceramic vessel evoking multi-layered kimono, pictured here.

With one humble material—bamboo—Japanese artists have produced a large body of fiber art. Weaving bamboo strips is similar to sewing with thread but goes a step beyond. The resulting three-dimensional bamboo sculptures encompass a great variety of patterns and shapes.

This installation was made possible by ArtsFund and the Guendolen Carkeek Plestcheeff Fund for the Decorative and Design Arts Japan Foundation, Los Angeles. 

"Folding Into Shape: Japanese Design and Crafts" will be on view in the Third Floor Galleries of the Seattle Art Museum until September 25. The Seattle Art Museum is at 1300 First Avenue. For more information, 206-654-3100 or

Caption: Bundle, 2019, Tanaka Yu, matte-glazed stoneware, Gift of Gordon Brodfuehrer in honor of the Monsen family, 2020.21.3, photo by Richard Goodbody, Courtesy of Joan B Mirviss LTD.

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