Sat, Sep 08, 2018 - Page 13 News List

Tree of Life show rooted in tradition

A traveling exhibition showcasing the work of traditional craftspeople and artists from 16 nations in South, Central and Southeast Asia, along with works by Taiwanese, is in Taipei for five months

By Diane Baker  /  Staff reporter

Abdyldaev and Indian designer Sunita Shankar are giving talks today about their work. Shankar’s lecture, “My Journey in The Craft Sector & Working on Sustainable Fashion,” is from 10am to 12pm, while Abdyldaev’s “Searching Inspiration” is from 2pm to 4pm. Both require advance registration, links to which can be found on the institute’s Web site.

The 67 works in the Taipei version of the exhibition come in a dizzying array of materials, shapes and sizes, and include both traditional crafts and contemporary interpretations. Eight of the artists are recipients of the UNESCO-World Crafts Council Award of Excellence, which recognizes their mastery and preservation of traditional crafts.

The works have been grouped in four sections: Being Mortal, Prayer, Fluidity and Transformation.

One of the interesting aspects of the show is that while its focus is interpretations of the tree of life from various countries and cultures, it also demonstrates the possibilities of cross-cultural pollination.

One such work is a meters-long black silk obi created by Indian artist Jai Prakash, one of the UNESCO-World Crafts Council award winners, for a Japanese client, with hand-painted scenes of deer under a tree of life.

Prakash’s obi combines a Japanese color palate with the fine details of Indian miniaturist traditions.

A circular “yarn painting” by Mexican artist Cilau Valadez — yes, he is from outside the regional scope of the show, but there is also an antique woman’s robe from Palestine — features traditional colors and symbols of the Huichol people, but with a modern twist.

At first the circular piece appears to be needlepoint embroidery, but Valadez does not sew with yarn — he presses it into a board that has been treated with wax and resin, a Huichol traditional art form.

Tang Wen-chun’s (湯文君) Blossom in Winter is a tripartite silk wall hanging made by stencil dyeing with traditional indigo; each gossamer panel is beautiful on its own, but viewed from the front they combine into a subtly shaded blossoming tree.

The “Tree of Life” show, which runs through Jan. 27, can easily be viewed in less than an hour — but each piece is worth close inspection.

For thousands of years, the tree of life was believed to wide and tall enough to serve as connection between heaven and earth. Today the tree is serving as a bridge connecting peoples and cultures.

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