Embroidery exhibit at Oglethorpe Museum is welcome winter distraction

The International Gagaku (Traditional Japanese Dance), Detail, Courtesy of the Japanese Embroidery Center
The International Gagaku (Traditional Japanese Dance), Detail, Courtesy of the Japanese Embroidery Center

By Karen Head

The winter months (even the mild winter months we often have in Atlanta) lend themselves so readily to museum visits. The new exhibition at the Oglethorpe University Museum of Art, provides not only a welcome winter distraction, but also will put visitors in mind of spring.

“Nuido, The Way of Embroidery” (open through March 6) provides a marvelous array of embroidered artifacts from traditional wall hangings to haute couture evening bags. Each artifact exhibits not only the embroidery but also demonstrates a particular level of technical skill. I was fascinated to be able to see artifacts of different skill levels by single artists—something that helped me understand the distinctions between various levels. The detail is extraordinary, from flowers to fans to giant shrimp. The museum has also done a commendable job of providing the cultural information to help viewers understand the metaphorical meaning behind the compositions.

One surprising discovery was that the Japanese Embroidery Center is located in nearby Dunwoody. I had no idea that so many Georgians were trained in this art. What a pleasure to discover such an unexpected local treasure.

The highlight of the exhibition for me (apart from those stunning evening bags!) was the multi-artist, multi-year, international fractal project. Each individual embroidery panel is beautiful in its own right, but when assembled they create a stunning patchwork that very much resembles the combs of a beehive.

In addition to the embroidery, visitors can also look forward to seeing examples of Ikebana floral arrangements. Each Tuesday and Friday for the length of the exhibition, new arrangements will be installed. Simply put, the Ikebana are exquisite.

Finally, there is a small gallery devoted to the museum’s permanent collection of related Japanese art. All in all, a winter visit to the OUMA is a wonderful way to pass a few hours.

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