LOWELL, Mass. – As one of only three museums in the U.S. to host this much-anticipated exhibition, the New England Quilt Museum (NEQM) is thrilled to announce the return of the exhibit Quilts Japan: The 15th Quilt Nihon, which opened May 25 and continues through September 11.
This exhibition of 36 award-winning quilts premiered at the Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum before traveling internationally. It features some of the most original and extraordinary works from the competition of the Japanese Handicraft Instructors’ Association (JHIA), which sponsors the largest international quilt contest in Japan and one of the most prestigious in the world. The competition has been held biannually since 1989.
The 15th competition drew 347 entries from 10 countries. Judging took place in July of 2019, and 81 quilts in both traditional and contemporary categories were awarded prizes, from Honorary Mention to Gold Award.
For more than 48 years, the JHIA has promoted handcrafted arts in Japan by educating and training instructors in eight specialties: quilt making, knitting, embroidery, lace making, painting, weaving, leatherwork, and flower art. The JHIA boasts 7,000 certified quilt instructors among its 12,000 members. Its biennial Quilt Nihon Exhibition is a must-see for quilt aficionados who marvel at the complexity of these master works, as well as first-time visitors who simply delight in their beauty.
Among the works on show in the traveling exhibition is Yoko Kageyama’s Recollection, which won the gold award at the JHIA biennial. In discussing the genesis of the work, the artist said: “When I visited the Opera Garnier in Paris, I was overwhelmed by its gorgeous decoration. Looking down at my feet, I saw an exquisite mosaic floor. Soon I imagined that the Phantom of the Opera might have been walking on this floor nightly. I made this quilt, inspired by that mosaic pattern.”
Another notable piece on view is Toshiko Akashi’s Elegant and Brilliant Osaka, which earned the Quilts Japan Award.