Sadao Watanabe, Pentecost, 1965, stencil print. Transfer from The Pennsylvania State University Libraries Print Collection, 2009.346.
In the years following World War II, one of the ways Japan attempted to reshape its world image was by presenting an idea of modern Japanese culture rooted in tradition. This effort took place both in Japan, where individual artists were encouraged to develop new approaches to long-established forms of Japanese art, and in the West, where art audiences were encouraged to value new Japanese artistic expressions as part of a global culture of modernism associated with creative individuality. Forging Alliances draws on the Palmer Museum’s collection of postwar mingei ceramics, many of which were acquired for the University by the late professor of art Ken Beittel during his historic 1967 sabbatical in Arita to study with Manji Inoue, and mid-twentieth-century woodblock prints from the “Creative Print Movement,” a western-influenced trend that emphasized a more individualized approach to Japanese printmaking.
The works featured in Forging Alliances were selected by Christopher Reed, professor of English and visual culture, and Jonathan Abel, assistant professor of comparative literature and Asian Studies. The exhibition served as the subject for their fall 2013 seminar, Mapping Identity, Difference, and Place, in which students researched and provided didactic information for each of the pots and prints on view.