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Daily Art Moment: Iwami Reika

“Iwami Reika passed away earlier this year, at the age of 93. I’ve been reflecting on her body of work for several months, and with rain pouring down in Portland today, the memory of wildfire smoke still fresh, her ‘Song of Water’ feels like an appropriate celebration of the drips and sloshes and susurrations. Iwami created abstracted representations of the natural world, especially the sea and the flow of water—often evoking them in textured wood grain that simulates pieces of driftwood. By the time this print was made, she was adept at creating velvety textures on paper, in her signature monochrome palette highlighted with gold and silver foil.

Iwami was a founding member of Joryū Hanga Kyōkai, or the Women’s Print Association—the first printmaking society for women artists in Japan. This important group has never gotten the critical attention it deserves. You can see this print and work by Iwami’s peers in our current small show on this pioneering collective—the first exhibition in the world to focus on this group as a collective in the ‘50s and ‘60s.”

Jeannie Kenmotsu, Japan Foundation Associate Curator of Japanese Art & Interim Head of Asian Art

Joryū Hanga Kyōkai, 1956–1965: Japan’s Women Printmakers is now on view in the Japanese art galleries.

Iwami Reika (Japanese, 1927–2020). Mizu no fu 78-H (Song of Water 78-H), 1978. Color woodblock print with embossing, gold leaf, and metallic pigments on paper. Gift of Marge Carter, 2018.58.2