Friday, July 17, 2015

Part 1: La Japonaise replica uchikake @ Kimono Wednesdays

Adult size La Japonaise replica uchikake

Please see my original post for background on the history of Camille Monet's uchikake and the MFA's Kimono Wednesdays: Monet's La Japonaise Kimono Wednesdays at the MFA.

Wendy Dodek talks about La Japonaise
I finally made it to Kimono Wednesday at the MFA last night. Wendy Dodek, Gallery Learning Lead Educator, who gives many Spotlight Talks for the MFA has been giving the Kimono Wednesday talks. The MFA suggests that they allow visitors to "Dig deeper into a work of art with knowledgeable MFA staff," however talks are too short to allow visitors to dig too deeply – "Take fifteen minutes to look more closely and discover stories, techniques, and histories of fascinating objects in the Museum." The MFA is gigantic so I understand that the average visitor isn't going to want to attend a lengthy talk or workshop. Spotlight Talks offer something in between just looking at the art and attending a long event.

Taira no Koremochi
I have seen criticism of past Kimono Wednesday Spotlight Talks but from what I could hear it seemed educational and covered a brief history of the painting and the character depicted on Camille's uchikake, Taira no Koremochi from the shosagoto (a kabuki dance-drama) Momijigari. More was probably covered but I found it hard to hear because the Sidney and Esther Rabb Gallery is large and has very high ceilings so the room swallows sound. I was also moving around a lot taking photos and talking to people. Timothy Nagaoka, who also counterprotested last week, told me that this week's talk was more informative than last week's. After the talk Ms. Dodek took questions. I asked who had made the replica uchikake. She didn't have the information in her notes but emailed it to me later. The two uchikake (one adult size and one child size) were produced by the Takarazuka Stage Co., a stage management company that owns the famous Takarazuka Revue, an all female revue founded in 1913. The uchikake replicas were funded by NHK to accompany the MFA's traveling exhibit, Looking East: Western Artists and the Allure of Japan, during its Japanese tour and then generously donated by NHK so that the MFA could host similar events to those that happened in Japan. I was told by another MFA staffer that after Kimono Wednesdays end the uchikake will remain in MFA storage as items associated with La Japonaise and may be used for future events.

Anyone who is a fiber artist, especially those who sew, weave, and embroider should check out the uchikake before it goes into storage. I might have to go back to take another look. The gallery was quite crowded and there was a lot going on with the protest and counterprotest so I didn't realize until I got home that I'd mostly been looking and thinking about the uchikake in terms of what pictures I needed for the blog, not from a fiber arts perspective. About the only thing I managed to note on that front was the variety of Japanese embroidery techniques used and the quality of the work.

Child size La Japonaise replica uchikake
I spoke with two counterprotesters who had been fortunate to attend the first Kimono Wednesday and try on the uchikake. The taller woman had tried the adult size and the shorter woman tried the child size. They both said that you think it's heavy but then you try it on and it's even heavier than you'd imagine. When I was checking out the adult size replica uchikake with my friends, one of them told me that she rented an uchikake when she got married but the one she wore did not weigh as much because there was much less embroidery on it. Japanese women rent uchikake for weddings because unless you're ridiculously wealthy you can't afford to buy one.

Kimono Wednesdays are scheduled to continue through the end of July on Wednesdays with Spotlight Talks at 6:00pm - 6:15pm, 6:45pm - 7:00pm, and 7:15pm - 7:30pm. Admission on Wednesdays after 4pm is "by voluntary contribution" so it can be free if you want it to be. Please note that the protesters have stated in the past that they intend to be there every Wednesday. There are no plans for counterprotests for the remainder of the month.

Additional photos here. They include more close-ups.

See also: Part 2: Protest and counterprotest @ July 15th Kimono Wednesday

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