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Heartland gallery hosts Japanese inspired exhibit

Written by on March 31, 2023

NORMAL, Ill. – The Joe McCauley Gallery at Heartland Community College is hosting The Floating World art exhibit until May 11.

The gallery combines the work of Nishiki Sugawara-Beda, Erika Shiba, Jenny Knavel and Cathie Crawford. Each submitted work relating to the exhibit’s central theme of existence, with a goal in mind of letting the audience transcend beyond the art in front of them.

The exhibit was curated by Shahrbanoo Hamzeh and Erika Shiba. They attended Illinois State University together and expressed interest in Japanese art. Associate Dean of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences, Carol Hahn, spoke on Hamzeh’s inspiration for the event.

“She kind of collected as she went. She found people who were interested in the Japanese culture and used it as source material for their art,” Hahn said.
The exhibit is also connected to the Japanese cultural festival going on at Heartland. The festival is sponsored by the international program and it includes demonstrations and workshops from Japanese artists that the public can view.

Hahn spoke on events the festival is doing together with The Floating World exhibit for its reception on April 25.

“It is bringing in several craftsman and artists that are coming from Japan,” Hahn said. “On April 24 and 25, there will be a lot of things people could come see, watch the demonstrations and participate in some of the workshops.”

One artist that will attend is Peoria-based printmaker Cathie Crawford, who studied the Ukiyo-e masters of Japan. She specializes in color reduction woodcutting, using stencils or other tools to craft an image into a piece of wood and applying ink to it. The process can take weeks at a time to allow the oil-based inks to properly dry onto the wood before applying the next layer.

Crawford discovered her love of woodcutting in graduate school, transitioning her art style away from lithography, printmaking with stone. She studied the Ukiyo-e masters, who greatly inspired her art from then on as well as her work for The Floating World exhibit. Crawford spoke on the title of the event and how these 400 year old art style inspired it.

“Ukiyo-e translates to ‘Floating World of Everyday Life’,” Crawford said. “And so that was the perfect title for this invitational exhibit.”

Crawford is also inspired by the element of water and climate change. Her piece, Climate Climax, combined all three of these themes as it is an abstract landscape work done in the Ukiyo-e style. Another piece, Manzoku, is an abstract work of Crawford hand feeding her koi fish. Crawford talked about how important her fish are to her and her inspiration.

“I have a koi pond and that’s my place of contentment, where I hand feed my fish everyday during the summer,” Crawford said. “They’re my only pets and I’m just as crazy about them as people are about their cats and dogs.”