Japan’s history of metalworking has evolved for more than two thousand years. Today metal in its diverse formats is a major medium practiced by studio artists. The Freer|Sackler established a Residency in Japanese Metalwork Design in 2015 to recognize outstanding artists in this medium and to introduce their work to our audiences.
The first recipient of the award was Osumi Yukie. Ms. Osumi (born 1945) is known for her specialization in hand-raised silver vessels decorated with nunome zōgan, an inlay technique similar to damascene. Her designs, executed in a palette of silver, gold, and lead, evoke clouds or water and waves. Her works are in numerous museum collections, including the National Museum of Modern Art in Tokyo and the National Museum of Scotland in Edinburgh.
Ms. Osumi’s vase Sound of Wind received the prestigious Nihon Kōgeikai Hojisha prize at the sixty-first annual Japanese Traditional Art Crafts exhibition in 2014. The following year the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science, and Technology designated her as a Preserver of an Intangible Cultural Property. Recipients of this award are known informally as Living National Treasures. Ms. Osumi is the first woman to be so designated for metalwork.
Ms. Osumi traveled to Washington, D.C., in October 2015. The month-long residency enabled her to share her work, philosophy, and expertise with museum visitors, art students, artists, and museum staff through teaching, conversations, and public events. In preparation for her visit, Ms. Osumi commissioned a video of her working processes and showed it as part of a public talk in the Sackler Gallery. She also recorded an interview reflecting on her approach to her work. During her residency, the Sackler Gallery exhibited her work in Osumi Yukie: Wind and Waves.
Beyond the museums, Ms. Osumi taught a weekend workshop on the nunome zōgan technique at the Baltimore Jewelry Center. Every participant received a set of chisels that she had customized by hand. During her travels on the East Coast, Ms. Osumi visited museums, workshops, and metalwork artists, gave a talk to the jewelry and metalwork students at the Rhode Island School of Design, and had an uncommon opportunity to view the Statue of Liberty from the inside to see how its colossal copper form is constructed.
Collector and researcher Shirley Z. Johnson presented a second talk in November 2015, illuminating modern and contemporary Japanese metalwork.
Second Artist in Residence, April 2018
The second Artist in Residence for Japanese Metalwork Design is Tanaka Terukazu. Mr. Tanaka is in residence from April 5 to April 22, 2018. He presents a public talk April 8, 2018 and three of his works are on view in the Sackler Gallery during the month of April.
Louise Allison Cort
Curator for Ceramics