The Center for Lifelong Learning at Columbia Theological Seminary is hosting a new exhibit, Witness to Faith: The Biblical Art of Sadao Watanabe, featuring original works of graphic art by Japan’s foremost Christian artist of the 20th century. The exhibit is on display now through April 25, 2016 in the Harrington Center. The Columbia Seminary campus located at 701 S. Columbia Drive, Decatur, GA near Atlanta. The event is open to the public.
Born in 1913, Watanabe was baptized as a Christian at age 17 and devoted his life to depicting the stories of the Bible in a visual language understandable to the Japanese. Watanabe saw himself as a Christian printmaker whose mission was “to stand within the artistic tradition of Japan.” In his interpretations, the creatures entering Noah’s Ark correspond to the animal signs of the Asian zodiac; Jesus and his disciples wear kimonos and gather at the Last Supper to eat fish and drink sake.
Watanabe found inspiration in the mingei folk art movement that developed in Japan in the mid-1920s to promote traditional handcrafts made from natural materials. Working with his wife, Harue, Watanabe cut all his stencil patterns by hand and printed his images on handmade paper, coloring them with vegetable and mineral pigments.
He created small biblical scenes on untreated sheets of washi Japanese paper and large folio-sized prints on momigami wrinkled paper, made by crumpling and stretching sheets of mulberry paper to create a textured surface. Examples of both types of prints can be seen in the exhibition along with Christmas cards and calendars with print reproductions that Watanabe authorized for publication each year.
Watanabe’s stencil prints can be found in the permanent collections of the British Museum, New York’s Museum of Modern Art, The Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, the National Museum of Modern Art in Tokyo, and the Vatican Museum of Modern Religious Art. His chief desire was for his biblical prints to be seen in variety of public places by as broad an audience as possible.
The exhibit is on display on the second floor of the Harrington Center through April 25. It is open to the public during regular office hours (8:30 am – 4:30 pm, Monday –Friday). Arrangements to view the exhibit at other times may be made by contacting the Center for Lifelong Learning at 404-687-4577 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Center for Lifelong Learning