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16 October, 2008

Generations Opens to a Standing Room Only Audience

The Generations exhibit at The Gallery opened to a standing room only crowd. The lecture was followed by a Kimono fashion show.

Virginia Commonwealth University in Qatar opened the Generations exhibit to a standing room only audience. The attendees listened to a lecture by Yumiko Mizutani on Wednesday evening in a hall filled to capacity. "The audience turnout was outstanding for this exhibit and we are very pleased by the number of people interested in Japanese art and the Kimono," stated Moamer Qazafi Director of Marketing and Public Relations for VCUQatar. On October 16 at 10:00AM the public is invited to a Kimono painting workshop to experience the Kimono creation process by authentic Kimono artist Sosaku Manabe.

The audience was treated to a detailed explanation of the changes in Kimono design over the centuries and a fashion show after the lecture.

The Kimono, the national costume of Japan, was first developed over seven hundred years ago during the Heian Period. In modern times, however, the Kimono has become a garment that is no longer used in everyday life, but marks special occasions end events in a person's life that warrant an element of tradition, such as the Tea Ceremony, the New Year, the Coming-of-Age Day, Graduation, Wedding, or Funeral. Kimonos have traditionally been highly prized garments, hand-made of the finest materials, and handed down from one generation to the next. The exhibition "Generations - Tradition and Continuity in Kimonos from Japan", curated by Sandra Wilkins, Chairperson for the Department of Fashion Design at VCUQatar, explores this aspect of Japanese Kimono culture by showing examples from a private Japanese collection that were assembled over several generations. Furthermore the exhibition features a spectacular collection of kimonos by the artist Sosaku Manabe, a national living treasure in Japan, who works in painting on silk. In addition the exhibition also showcases the materials and techniques of manufacture of different types of Kimonos and assesses the resurgence of the Kimono in the youth culture of contemporary Japan.

"The Gallery's exhibit is designed to educate the audience about everything related to Kimonos; from how fabric is woven to the choice of colors. What makes Kimonos so highly prized is the art that goes into producing them. Japanese Kimono artists are Artists of amazing talent. Kimonos are often passed on from one generation to the next and in this exhibit we explore this tradition. Kimonos represent more than something worn; each Kimono is a living piece of art," explained Sandra Wilkins.

The opening lecture and history was provided by Prof. Yumiko Mizutani. Professor Mizutani is a professor at Graduate School of Intercultural Studies at Yamaguchi Prefectural University (YPU). Fashion Design and Aesthetic of Fashion are her majors. After completion of Master's course in Home Economics at Ochanomizu University, Tokyo, she taught in Seian College of Art and Design, Kyoto as an assistant professor, and is teaching now at YPU. She published "History of Fashion" as a co-author and "Dramatic Space by Tomio Mohri - Stage, Fashion and Art."

She works for regional collaboration through product design and fashion shows based on regional history and culture. Since 2000 she has organized and managed "Japan Fashion Design Contest in Yamaguchi" which focuses on Denim to popularize Denim fashion in and out of Japan. She researches Kimonos by focusing on the idea of "Japonism" and sustainability.

The Kimono artist Sosaku Manabe will conduct a public workshop in the VCUQatar Atrium on the manufacture of Kimonos on Thursday morning at 10:00AM. Mr. Manabe was born in 1956 and became interested in the world of drawing at an early age. Significantly influenced by his father who was a skilled painter, he grew up, listening to the sound of weaving in his aunt's house in Nishijin, Kyoto. He decided to learn Kyo-Yuzen hand-drawing under the artist Taro Ryoku in 1981, which gave him an extraordinary sense of color. After his apprenticeship in 1983, he extended his experience under the Japanese painting artist Koen Hakamada. By using his skill and sense of color he produces one of a kind products. His work "Henka (Change)" was awarded "Prize of Kyoto City Mayor" in May 1998. The Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry awarded him the title of "Traditional Industrial Artist" for Kyo-Yuzen hand drawing. Mr. Manabe states, "My motto is to produce Kimonos which people enjoy watching and are pleased to wear."

VCUQatar is particularly grateful for the generous support of this exhibition by H.E. Mr. Yukio Kitazume, The Ambassador of Japan to the State of Qatar and his wife Mrs. Hiroko Kitazume for lending their personal heirlooms from their private collection, as well as providing logistical support in inviting distinguished speakers from Japan. VCUQatar is also indebted to Mr. Sosaku Manabe for his generosity in lending over ten of his works. For more information about Mr. Manabe's works please visit

The exhibition concept was developed as part of the Exhibition and Environmental Design independent study by students Lydia Assad, Zeinab Khalil and Ghalya Al Thani with instructor Pornprapha Phatanateacha. Exhibit was produced with contributions from Pornprapha Phatanateacha and Levi Hammett from the Department of Graphic Design and Maja Kinnemark from the Department of Interior Design.

The exhibit is scheduled from October 15 - November 15, 2008. The VCUQatar Gallery is open Sundays-Thursdays, 10:00 am-5:00 pm, or by prior appointment.