The show is a collaboration with calligrapher Sensou Miyajima. Kobayashi’s traditional Nihonga-style paintings, made from silver and gold leaf plus bright pigments, are combined with early Japanese poetry inked by Miyajima to create an entirely new concept that has received quite a bit of attention in Nagano for its fresh take on traditional methods.
“We showed some of the work in Japan and they actually covered us on television,” says Kobayashi. “People were shocked by it. It’s considered a very new and innovative way to interpret calligraphy and this style of painting.”
While the work may be causing a stir in Japan, it’s far more orthodox and conservative than Kobayashi’s usual style, which has focused largely on the contemporary arts. Internationally, she is known for creating immersive, site-specific installations or performance art that utilizes avant-garde materials.
Kobayashi will also be teaching multiple courses at Bemis Art School Aug. 23-26, along with co-artist Miyajima. The courses cover sumi-e, Japanese ink painting; shodo, Japanese calligraphy; a combination of sumi-e and shodo; and ceramics. Students in the painting and calligraphy courses will learn how to grind their own ink from ink sticks and work with “washi,” hand-made Japanese fiber paper. Students in the ceramics course will utilize the sumi-e and shodo techniques to paint their own pottery.
Those who take multiple courses and complete a painting with sumi-e and shodo combined will have their works exhibited alongside Kobayashi and Miyajima’s in the Contemporary “Wa” show.