Boro Textiles: Sustainable Aesthetics
March 6, 2020 - June 14, 2020
Japan Society Gallery:
333 East 47th Street,
New York, NY 10017

In the 19th and 20th centuries, Japanese peasants pieced together patchwork textiles (boro) because northern climates made it difficult to cultivate cotton. Stitching remnants of used fabric onto utilitarian items like blankets, coats, and mittens also became commonplace. These garments, sometimes reworked over generations, express essential principles of Japanese ethics and aesthetics, such as an appreciation for distinguished imperfections (wabi-sabi) and the minimization of waste. This exhibition showcases such traditional practices by presenting 50 archival pieces from the collection of folklorist and cultural anthropologist Chuzaboro Tanaka (1933–2016), as well as boro-inspired garments by Japanese avant-garde fashion pioneers Rei Kawakubo, Issey Miyake, and Yohji Yamamoto. They demonstrate how the craft of mending has persisted over time while being adopted by new generations of designers. —Ryan Waddoups

Shigoto-gi (Work Clothes). Courtesy of Amuse Museum, Chuzaburo Tanaka Collection.

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