Patterned origami cranes covered the tops of white tablecloths at the Ackland Art Museum on Saturday, with many small hands folding more.
Those old enough to be entrusted with a needle and thread wove colorful tessellations, while others learned the process of screen-printing.
The museum celebrated Japanese culture Saturday with Bunka no Hi — a national Japanese holiday honoring the arts.
The festivities included displays and workshops from local artists to supplement the museum’s current “A Season of Japan” exhibition, which showcases Japanese pop-art, ceramics, screen prints and paintings.
“We wanted to incorporate some of the art forms that you can’t see on the walls of museums,” said Allison Portnow, events and programs coordinator for the Ackland.
“A Season of Japan” lasts until early January. Current exhibitions include “New Light on Japanese Painting” — painted screens and scrolls — and “Elegance and Extravagance” — mid-century Japanese posters.”
At the Bunka no Hi celebration, a featured art form was temari — balls of intricately wrapped yarn with geometric, floral or patterned designs.
Local artist Dana Watson, a native of Raleigh, explained the history and culture behind temari as she helped a young girl weave hot pink cotton thread through her ball.
“Originally they were toys that very high-class people or nobles would make for their kids,” Watson said.
She said once rubber was introduced in Japan, thus allowing balls to bounce, the art of temari suffered, and interest has revived only in the past 30 years.
Next to the temari table sat a station to make traditional Japanese silk embroideries. The temari and silk stations faced a long line of small, landscaped bonsai trees courtesy of the Raleigh-based Triangle Bonsai Society.
The North Carolina Haiku Society led haiku readings and workshops, and visitors navigated through the Japanese poster and pop-art exhibitions in scavenger hunts.
Hillsborough resident Libby Barron said she and her twin sons Samuel and Noah are frequent visitors to the Ackland and enjoy the museum’s many programs.
Samuel and Noah, age 9, said they became interested in Japanese culture because their teacher spent a year teaching in Japan.
“We come to the Ackland for almost all of their activities,” Libby Barron said.
She said one reason she brings her family to the Ackland is because it is free for all ages.
“It makes it more accessible, and (the Ackland) has wonderful exhibits and is much more welcoming for children.”
Amanda Hughes, the Ackland’s director of external affairs, said the museum acts as a bridge between the University’s academic community and the broader Chapel Hill community.
“(Bunka no Hi) allows us to bring forward into the community how alive these traditions are,” Hughes said.
“That’s one of the roles that an art museum can play — the role of a center where people can come and discover.”
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