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Virtual Asian-American Art Museum Project

Alexei Taylor, Author

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Lucy Arai

March 3, 1956, Tokyo, Japan
1956: Detroit & Highland Park, Michigan
1971: Tokyo, Japan
1972: Michigan
1975: Columbia, South Carolina
1979: Michigan
1988-present: Oakley, California
1979: BFA Ceramics, University of South Carolina
1983: MFA, University of Michigan
1985: Graduate Certificate in Museum Studies, University of Michigan
Selected Works:
2005.04, 71.5"x 27", Washi, sumi ink, indigo, aluminum & silver thread, 2005
2011.15: Aizome (Indigo) Shadows Of Tradition, 72"x 23", Indigo, Japanese handmade paper (washi), 2011
Kyokechi, 7' x 9' x 21", Dyed Japanese hand made paper, sumi ink
Arai, Lucy. Fabric as Art: KATA-GAMI and Batik. Exhibition Brochure. McKissick Museums, University of South Carolina, 1978.
Arai, Lucy. Mirrors of the Soul. "Toward a Feminist Theological Aesthetic." Journal of Women and Religion. Winter 1992.
Arai, Lucy. Trends and Traditions in Japanese Art. Exhibition catalogue. University of Michigan Museum of Art, 1983.
Arai, Lucy. "SASHIKO: Innovations and Refinement of a Japanese Stitchery Tradition." Piecework Magazine, Sept/Oct. 1994.
Doubles: Japan and America's Intercultural Children. Documentary Interview. PBS and NHK (Japan). 1995.
As the daughter of a Japanese mother and European-American father, Lucy Arai experienced racism first-hand growing up in tumultuous 1960s Michigan. In high school, Lucy’s parents sent her to stay with her uncle in Tokyo. Since neither of them understood the other’s language, Lucy and her uncle had to find a way of communicating. Her uncle became her apprentice in the art of sashiko, a traditional Japanese running stitch technique often used for decorative purposes in quilting and embroidery.
Arai came to think of her art as a means of expressing things for which she had no words. Incorporating aspects from her academic Western art background, Arai repurposes the sashiko technique for use with handmade paper and mixed media, including sumi ink and gold leaf. Although her finished works often have forms reminiscent of traditional Japanese landscape paintings, Lucy does not start with a specific subject in mind. The sashiko aspect of her work has come to be a meditative practice in her studio, where she has been known to stitch for upwards of eighteen hours a day.
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