Seattle-based Japanese artist Yuri Kinoshita commemorates Tohoku disaster with Woven Tea House

Japanese artist Yuri Kinoshita has installed a portable tea house at Bellevue Arts Museum in honour of her home country.

Yuri Kinoshita installed Shinpu (Fresh Breeze), Woven Tea House at the Bellevue Arts Museum in Washington State on 4 January 2013. The eight-square-foot tea house installation includes three “Wish Trees” where wishes can be left by the public to be added to Yoko Ono’s Imagine Wish Tower after the exhibition.

Yuri Kinoshita, 'Shinpu (Fresh Breeze), Woven Tea House', 2011, bamboo, wood, linen paper, kozo paper. Photograph by Tomonori Saito.

Yuri Kinoshita, 'Shinpu (Fresh Breeze), Woven Tea House', 2011, bamboo, wood, linen paper, kozo paper. Photograph by Tomonori Saito.

A long time in textiles

Kinoshita, who currently resides in Seattle, comes from a long background of Japanese artisans. “For three generations, my family has owned a business that creates and produces fine traditional kimonos in Kyoto, Japan, my place of birth. The artistic spark within me as a child was gradually ignited by my continual exposure to the beauty of the kimono fabrics, houses and gardens designed by traditional Japanese artists and craftsmen,” she said in an interview with Art Radar.

Yuri Kinoshita, tea ceremony demonstration, 11 January 2013, Bellevue Arts Museum. Photograph by Masaye Nakagawa.

Tea ceremony demonstration by the East-West Chanoyu Center, 11 January 2013, Bellevue Arts Museum. Photograph by Masaye Nakagawa.

According to the artist’s online biography, Kinoshita joined the family business in Japan and established a homewares division called Umbo in 1993. She moved to California to open Umbo U.S.A. in 2003. After relocating to Seattle in 2008, Kinoshita began making custom lanterns and started a lighting design business, using a process she calls “woven light” to create the shades.

In the artist’s promotional brochure, Kinoshita explains the process of rediscovering an interest that lead to a career in lighting design,

Shining through the large windows of my studio there, a divine light seemed to glow between the clouds and I was showered with childhood memories of the translucent white light filtering through the shoji screens at the edge of our garden. A passion stirred within and inspired me to begin the process of creating woven lanterns of myriad shapes and sizes using Japanese handmade papers and textiles. Like clouds in the sky, the lanterns emit a light that is softly filtered through the woven strips and the sun appears to shine brightly through the spaces in between. This is woven light!

Yuri Koshita, 'Shinpu (Fresh Breeze), Woven Tea House', 2011, bamboo, wood, linen paper, kozo paper. Photograph by Umbo, Inc.

Yuri Kinoshita, 'Shinpu (Fresh Breeze), Woven Tea House', 2011, bamboo, wood, linen paper, kozo paper. Image courtesy Umbo, Inc.

Portable tea house grounded in nature

This aspect of the outdoors and natural lighting are found in Kinoshita’s portable tea house, which was designed several years ago. “In 2008, I designed this as a place where our senses come alive,” Kinoshita said in her interview with us. “But I was waiting for the right time. After the 2011 Tohoku earthquake-tsunami, I found inspiration and started the project. I wanted to make it for Japan as a symbol of gratitude.”

Yuri Koshita, 'Shinpu (Fresh Breeze), Woven Tea House' (artwork installation in progress), 2011, bamboo, wood, linen paper, kozo paper. Image courtesy Umbo, Inc.

Yuri Koshita, 'Shinpu (Fresh Breeze), Woven Tea House' (artwork installation in progress), 2011, bamboo, wood, linen paper, kozo paper. Image courtesy Umbo, Inc.

Yuri Kinoshita installs 'Shinpu (Fresh Breeze), Woven Tea House' at the Bellevue Arts Museum. Photograph by Thomas J. Misciagna.

Yuri Kinoshita installs 'Shinpu (Fresh Breeze), Woven Tea House' at the Bellevue Arts Museum. (Fabrication by Thomas J. Misciagna.) Photograph by Thomas J. Misciagna.

The tea house is built out of bamboo, wood, linen paper and kozo paper. The artist weaves strips of paper with wire to form thin panels. In the tea house, Kinoshita has kept nature at the forefront of her mind. The front door is covered with “nebula paper”, a material that she made in 2008 with papermaker Kayo Hirao. The paper is infused with luminous powder so that when the tea house is placed in a dark room, a meteor shower is displayed on the surface of the door.

Yuri Kinoshita weaving strips of paper to create "woven light." Photograph by Kamala Dolphin-Kinsley.

Yuri Kinoshita weaving strips of paper to create "woven light." Photograph by Kamala Dolphin-Kinsley.

Kinoshita named the tea house Shinpu, which, as the artist told Art Radar, “means fresh breeze: we can always start over. I believe that this tea house is one of those places. I was inspired by the design of a hideaway tree house and a kamakura, which is a Japanese snow house in nature. There is a big [front] door which looks like a wall. The idea is to allow fresh air to enter.”

Wishes for world peace

Alongside the tea house are three “Wish Trees.” The museum provides tags on which guests can write their personal wishes for peace. Each tag is then hung on a tree branch. After the Kinoshita’s exhibition closes in early February 2013, the tags will be sent to Iceland to become a part of Yoko Ono’s Imagine Peace Tower. On the website for the installation, Yoko Ono says, “I hope the Imagine Peace Tower will give light to the strong wishes of world peace from all corners of the planet and give encouragement, inspiration and a sense of solidarity in a world now filled with fear and confusion.”

Wish Tree installation at Bellevue Arts Museum. Image courtesy of Bellevue Arts Museum.

"Wish Tree" installation at Bellevue Arts Museum. Image courtesy of Bellevue Arts Museum.

More on Yuri Kinoshita

Yuri Kinoshita was born in Kyoto, Japan. She graduated from Osaka Mode Gakuen, Department of Interior Design, winning the school’s grand prize. In 1993, she joined the family-run kimono business Kinoshita Co. and founded Umbo, a division of the company that specialises in art for home design. Her designs are found in personal residences and commercial spaces throughout the United State’s Pacific Northwest. Kinoshita will be participating in “Paper Unbound: Horiuchi and Beyond” a group show at the Wing Luke Museum of the Asian Pacific American Experience between 22 February and 14 July 2013.

LMP/KN/HH

Related Topics: Japanese artists, art materials – bamboolight, paper

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Comments

Seattle-based Japanese artist Yuri Kinoshita commemorates Tohoku disaster with Woven Tea House — 3 Comments

  1. Thank you for the nice comments, Gayatri! I hope you have a chance to visit the installation if you live in the Pacific Northwest.

  2. Beautifully written article, very informative with lovely images. I want to visit this exhibit before it closes and make a cause for peace as well.

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