For the next few months, a visit to the Ackland Art Museum will take spectators further east than Chapel Hill.
Emily Kass, the Ackland director, said “A Season of Japan” was conceived when a $300,000 conservation project of Japanese screens coincided with plans for an exhibition of 20th century Japanese posters.
Combining those two exhibits with some of the Ackland’s extensive Asian art collection resulted in seven exhibitions for the “Season of Japan.”
“We have a really important collection of Asian art, and within that, Japanese art is one of our strengths,” Kass said.
“It’s a rich visual history going back thousands of years,” she said.
Peter Nisbet, chief curator at the Ackland, said the exhibitions are not linked artistically.
But he said they serve as a kaleidoscope that highlights historical aspects of Japanese culture — from the traditional Japanese prints in the exhibitions “Pictures of Vanity Fair” and “East Faces West” to the more modern, western-influenced posters in “Elegance and Extravagance.”
“It’s a fascinating culture because it’s gone through different phases of absorbing influences from other cultures,” Nisbet said.
Allison Portnow, events and programs coordinator at the Ackland, said the museum has planned several events for the season including film viewings, lectures, concerts and tea and sake tastings.
Portnow said she worked with local Japanese art groups to bring activities like haiku, origami and bonsai to the free event celebrating the holiday.
Emily Bowles, the Ackland’s director of communications, said the programs showcase the incredible variety in Japanese art.
“These programs are really offering a deeper understanding of Japan,” Bowles said.
Portnow said “A Season of Japan” is not just for Japanese art aficionados.
“The program is a great way to introduce people to Japanese art,” she said.
Nisbet said that although the exhibitions are so diverse, he wants to discover new interpretations from those who visit the exhibitions.
“My hope is that this exhibition will get people thinking about the continuities in Japanese culture — what is Japanese about Japanese art?”
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