Because both of my parents have been involved in the textile industry– my dad owns a small company that sells and customizes uniforms, and my mom used to own a small business that made children’s clothes– I’ve always been around fabric arts. From embroidery and cross-stitching to quilting and weaving, there’s such a rich history of the politics and social impact of fabric arts. In fact, because of the political weight of the “folk arts” scene, fabric arts are culturally undervalued and underrepresented in art history scholarship.
Case in point: the kimono art of Itchiku Kubota. I first encountered Kubota in high school on a family trip to Washington, D.C. We stumbled upon his exhibition at the Smithsonian and were totally awed by his beautiful tie-dye (tsujigahana) kimonos. My mom was visionary enough (at 15, I was not) to buy the exhibition poster and a number of postcards and she kept the poster over her desk for a few years. When I went away to college I requested to take it with me, and it’s been over or near my desk since 1998, providing a source of continual inspiration as well as of pleasant memories of my family.
When I had to choose a topic for my pathfinder assignment for my Reference class, all I had to do was look up. There’s an entire museum dedicated to Kubota in Japan, but there have only been two exhibitions of his work in the U.S. (one had multiple sites). Perhaps my pathfinder could encourage greater attention to Kubota’s beautiful work. Here is what I found (also available as a Google Doc; comments on how to improve this Pathfinder are welcome):
Selected Print Books and Exhibition Catalogs
Frankel, D. (1980). Itchiku Kubota: Kimono in the ”Tsujigahana” Tradition: Exhibition Catalog. CA: California State University at Fullerton. NK8898.K89 I8
Gluckman, D.C. (2008). Kimono as art : the landscapes of Itchiku Kubota. London : Thames & Hudson. NK9502.2.K82 K56 2008
Kimono as Art Education Committee (2008). Kimono as art : the landscapes of Itchiku Kubota : teacher resource guide. [Canton, Ohio] : Kimono as Art Education Committee. J R 746.92 KIM (Dewey)
Kubota, I. (1995). Itchiku Kubota. Itchiku Tsujigahana (Homage to nature landscape kimonos by ITCHIKU KUBOTA). Arlington, VA : Virginia Lithograph. NK9502.2 .K82 .A4 1995
Kubota, I. (1979). Itchiku Tsujigahana. NY: A & W Publishers, Inc. NK9502.2.K82 A4 1979
Yamanobe, T. (1984). Opulence : the kimonos and robes of Itchiku Kubota. Tokyo; New York: Kodansha International. NK9502.2.K82 A4 1984 fol.
“To dye for: portraying nature on silk [Landscape kimonos by Itchiku Kubota: National Museum of Natural History, Washington, D.C; exhibit].” Landscape Architecture v. 86 (March 1996) p. 20+
Diane M. Bolz, D.M. (1995). “Itchiku Kubota’s fascination with an ancient textile art.” SMITHSONIAN. 26, no. 9, (1995): 64-69.
Exhibitions (By Year)
Landscape Kimonos by Itchiku Kubota. 1995-96. Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C.
There is a permanent gallery dedicated to Kubota in Yamanashi, Japan. The museum does not have an English website, but it does give tours in English. Directions can be found here.
The following videos are short pieces describing the exhibition of Kubota’s work in San Diego in 2008-09 and Canton, OH in 2009. These and other related short films can be viewed as a playlist on YouTube. Many of these were produced by ArtsinStark, the Community Arts Council of Canton, OH.
Web Resources – Selected Reviews
Web Resources – Selected Blogs
There are no blogs dedicated solely to Kubota’s work, but the following entries are informative. Due to the personal nature of these sites, they are better used as starting points than as research material.
San Diego Public Library’s pathfinder in conjunction with the San Diego Museum of Art’s “Kimono as Art” exhibit contains a few works directly related to Kubota and more general information about Kimonos, Japanese art and Japanese literature.