Each day this week, I've intended to show up here and write about the Tokyo show. And each day has found me ruminating on how best to convey my experience and reactions. This morning I sat down and went through my photos for the hundredth time and things fell into place.
'Meeting Hearts by Quilts ~ Praying for Recovery and Renaissance from the Great East Japan Earthquake'...this was the theme of the show that attendees first encountered upon entering this year's Tokyo International Great Quilt Festival. Although most of the signage was in Japanese, one phrase prominently featured was 'Prayers by Needles'.
The 34 quilts in this display were made by invited artists, many whose work I recognized from previous shows.
They reflected a range of emotions. Sadness. Hope. Acceptance.
A determination to stand together and move forward.
I learned later that the quilts were included in a silent auction to raise funds for the recovery, part of an ongoing effort throughout the country to address the terrible aftermath of last march's tragic events.
This theme was evident, though more subtle, in other exhibits at the show. As in past years, there was an aisle of featured quilt artists' 'rooms'. Keiko Goke's room was set up like a flower shop, the featured quilt, 'Sending the Bouquet for Heart of All'. I was fortunate to chat with Keiko several times during my visit (more in a later post) and the weight of her experiences in Sendai last March was palpable.
Late in the afternoon of my second visit to the show, Molly & I stopped by Keiko's booth to say goodbye. She happened to be chatting with Fumiko Nakayama, the Japanese quilt artist who is so well known for her contemporary quilts in the mola style. (She has gorgeous quilts in each of my Tokyo Quilt Festival Flickr albums...instantly recognizable.) Keiko introduced her to us and Molly told her in Japanese how much she enjoyed the quilt in her special exhibit room. She replied that after the earthquake, she wanted to make something joyous, green, with things growing and regenerating. Hopeful.
I left Japan with the feeling that the show was more subdued than in past years. That it had a distracted quality...the category content, the individual shows, the depth of the work. That compared to past years, it was less. But here's the funny thing. As I've gone through my photos...reviewing, editing, remembering...in some ways, it seems like more. I'm so grateful that I was able to attend this year.
***Lots of photos have been added to the 2012 Tokyo Quilt Festival Flickr album and have many more to upload. Thanks for your comments on individual photos, I love hearing which pieces you like most.