The human face and its expressive potential have inspired artists around the world for millennia. Arguably, Japan's Noh theater provides an unparalleled domain for exploring emotion and representing the human countenance. Today, Noh continues to inspire a dynamic dialogue between artists from Asia and the west. Expanding on this rich vein, Traditions Transfigured selects contemporary works by Noh mask maker Bidou Yamaguchi. These masks apply the forms, techniques, transformative spirit, and mysterious elegance of Noh masks to iconic female portraits from the European art historical canon, and to Kabuki actor prints by Sharaku, Japan's enigmatic 18th century portrait master.
The exhibition catalogue (distributed by University of Washington Press) analyzes how Bidou's work radically extends Noh's emphasis on the transformation of souls across time and space into new cultural and physical dimensions. By transfiguring both European and Japanese artistic traditions, Bidou's work merges past and present. More importantly, it allows contemporary audiences to uncover deeper dimensions of their own humanity. By imagining ourselves wearing different faces, we can forge deeper connections with others.
The exhibition was curated by Interim Director of Museum Studies, Dr. Kendall H. Brown, with B. Karenina Karyadi, Lauren Nochella, Kristy Odett, and Ariana Rizo. For these students, it partially fulfills a requirement for the CSULB Graduate program in Museum and Curatorial Studies. Traditions Transfigured is made possible by generous funding from the McLeod Family Foundation, Instructional Related Activities, California State University, Long Beach (CSULB), and Associated Students, Inc, CSULB. The UAM staff deserves special thanks for their support and advice throughout the process.