The World of Fujiko Isomura

The Chosen
-The Madison Art Center sifted through hundreds of applicants to
create an up-to-the-minute exhibition of Wisconsin art.

by C.R. Gabriel

"Wisconsin Triennial"
Madison Art Center, Madison, Wisconsin.
From: The Culture, ISTHMUS, Madison, WI, September 17, 1999, pp.17-18.

.....The Madison Art Center’s Wisconsin Triennial is a bit like the U.S. Open-anyone can enter, but the competition is very tough. Out of the 469 Wisconsinites who applied, few were called and fewer still-49were chosen. There were rounds -a long process involving submission of slides, studio visits and discussions.
.....It was work for both sides. Just three judges-Stephen Fleischman, Sara Krajewski and Sheri Castelmuovo, all from the Madison Art Center-took on the shifting and winnowing, legwork and paperwork, and the results are impressive. God may be dead and civilization may be dying, but art is obviously alive and flourishing.
.....Everyone from seasoned professionals to Sunday painters applied. "We saw a lot of different things," Krajewski says with a smile. The work that was selected tended to have been geared toward museums from the beginning. "We were looking for work that was part of contemporary art discourse," she says. And to make the final cut, a piece had do be “not just conceptually interesting, but visually appealing and well-crafted."

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.....Roughly half of the 49 are first-time participants, and many are young enough that the Triennial is a big step. Fujiko Isomura remembers seeing the 1996 Triennial as a UW graduate student: It brought home to her that her professors were artists as well as teachers. Three years and one MFA later, she is included among them. "I was really excited,” she says. Today she is teaching in an outreach program while "trying to be an artist and also looking for a job."
.....Isomura grew up in Tokyo, but became interested in traditional Japanese art only after arriving in the U.S. Her amusing, pointed and somewhat wistful prints combine fragmented images form traditional Japanese prints- once a part of popular culture, she points out –with scraps of American popular culture familiar to the Japanese, e.g., the Marlboro Man’s horse and Garfield (the cartoon cat), who is popular in Japan. "I think about my Japanese culture more than before," she says.
.....In "Lovers," Garfield peers at an iconic Japanese beauty framed in an arch borrowed from Italian religious painting. This piece is about self, Isomura say, about how the Japanese woman is seen-especially the Japanese woman in another culture, being seen by someone from a different background. The prints mix not only cultures but techniques: Inkjet printing, traditional gold leaf application and gouache all play a role.

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