May 8, 2021 – September 19, 2021
Painting Enlightenment: Experiencing Wisdom and Compassion through Art and Science, features works by Japanese scientist and artist Iwasaki Tsuneo (1917-2002). The paintings create a contemplative journey and meditations on the interconnectedness of the universe. Iwasaki collapses distinctions between image, text and thought with imagery representative of both scientific phenomena and Buddhist principles. He forms the images by using characters from the sacred Buddhist text, the Heart Sutra.
Upon retiring from a career as a research biologist, Iwasaki expanded his own practice of copying sacred texts, called shyakyō – a form of devotion with a long history in Japan. In his unique process, instead of separating the verses written into vertical blocks, he reconfigures them into images such as DNA, lightning bolts, bubbles, atoms and ants. He created this artistic practice to express the intricate relationship between science and Buddhism.
Organized by the Louisiana State University Museum of Art with guest curator, Dr. Paula Arai, Professor of Philosophy and Religious Studies at LSU. Presented at the Morikami Museum and funded in part by the Henri and Tomoye Takahashi Charitable Foundation and the E. Rhodes and Leona B. Carpenter Foundation.
Member Preview: May 7, 2021
General Public: May 8, 2021
Musha-Ningyō: Avatars of the Samurai Spirit
Nov 5, 2021 – March 27, 2022
The Morikami Museum celebrates the wisdom and strength of all children in an extraordinary display of traditional dolls (ningyō) depicting Japan’s rich samurai culture, inspired by Kodomo no hi, or Children’s Day. This popular festival was originally known as Tangu no Sekku (First Day of the Horse) and held on the 5th day of the 5th month. The event was filled with rituals designed to drive off malevolent influences and to purify the home. During the Edo period (1615-1868) when military culture was at its peak, Tangu no Sekku was noted for the elaborate display of dolls depicting renowned warriors drawn from Japan’s martial past. Alongside, were carp banners fluttering over the house, one for each male child. Also referred to as Boy’s Day, the festival became the masculine equivalent of Girl’s Day, held on the 3rd day of the 3rd month. In 1948, the Japanese government rededicated the May holiday to all children – boys and girls – as Kodomo no hi.
Musha-ningyō, or warrior dolls, represent a range of legendary and historic figures. The ascendency of the samurai warrior class in the 11th century profoundly shaped the philosophical, political, and visual culture of Japan for the next seven centuries. Samurai-based values and attitudes emphasized martial prowess and strength. The development of the Boy’s Day Ceremony, with its dramatic display of exquisitely dressed ningyō, not only reflects the proud family lineages and exploits, but the ritual also imbued the figures with a special symbolism that enabled participants to renew their connection with the spirit of the samurai. By the 2nd half of the 20th century, the influence of Japan’s warrior ethos had been embraced by pop culture enthusiasts all over the world. The long tradition of musha-ningyō can be viewed as an important inspiration for later manifestations of these same heroes who came to populate video games, manga, anime and the multi-dimensional world of cyberspace.
The Morikami is thrilled to present this rare gathering of more than 50 meticulously outfitted musha-ningyō, created by leading doll artists of the 19th and 20th centuries, on loan from several private collections. Meet the movers and shakers of Japanese lore and legend, including elegant Empress Jingū, shaman and interpreter of dreams, Toyotomi Hideyoshi, Japan’s Great Unifier, Kato Kiyomasa, “The Devil General,” archer Minamoto Yorimasu, the monster-slayer, and Kintarō and Momotarō, beloved boy heroes of superhuman strength. Set against a backdrop of boldly decorated Boy’s Day banners and crested battlefield curtains, you can explore the world of these diminutive icons of nobility and follow their influence on contemporary avatars of the samurai spirit.