Herron School of Art and Design will present an exhibition the like of which has never been seen in Indianapolis. Discovering Japanese Bamboo Art: The Rusty and Ann Harrison Collection opens on March 2 with a reception from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. in the Eleanor Prest Reese, Robert B. Berkshire and Dorit and Gerald Paul galleries of Eskenazi Hall and continues through April 16.
This survey exhibition will feature 45 sculptural bamboo forms and baskets belonging to longtime art aficionados Rusty and Ann Harrison, who began collecting when Rusty’s business travels took him to Japan decades ago.
Plans for the exhibition began taking shape two years ago, when Herron’s dean, Valerie Eickmeier, was meeting with Ann at the Harrison’s home in Attica, Indiana. “The more that I learned about the Harrison’s collection of bamboo art, the more intrigued I became,” she said. “It will be an amazing exhibition for others—especially our students—to see and learn from.”
Japanese bamboo art expert Robert T. Coffland said, “Bamboo is as deeply intertwined as rice in Japanese history and culture. The most talented artisans made bamboo baskets for tea ceremony flower arrangements. In the mid-19th century, a master maker and former Samurai, Hayakawa Shokosai I, declared himself an artist. This break with tradition encouraged other artisans to begin individualistic experiments that drew upon Chinese and Japanese aesthetics.”
A handful of Japanese bamboo artists have earned the designation Living National Treasure of Japan for their work, but there are still surprisingly very few contemporary collectors of the art form, according to Coffland. So the Harrison Collection will introduce mostly undiscovered works spanning more than a century.