‘Women of Mokuhanga’ Celebrates Contemporary and Historical Japanese Woodcuts

(Tuscaloosa, AL)—The Sarah Moody Gallery of Art is pleased to present the exhibition, Women of Mokuhanga, from October 17 through November 30, 2023. There will be an opening reception on Tuesday, October 17 from 4:00 to 6:00 p.m. and a lecture on Thursday, November 9, at 4:00 p.m. by Assistant Professor Dr. Doris Sung in Gorgas Library’s Yellowhammer Room.

April Vollmer, “Spider Quadrille,” 2001, woodcut on Kizuki hanga, reduction print, printed in quarters, edition of 11, 26 x 26 inches. Courtesy of the artist.

Co-curated by Sarah Marshall, professor of printmaking, and Doris Sung, professor of Asian art history, of the department of art and art history, Women of Mokuhanga features works in the Japanese method of mokuhanga (watercolor woodblock printmaking) by contemporary artists and traditional works in the medium, connecting its history with the vibrant output of women artists working today.

The exhibition features work by five celebrated contemporary women printmakers—Katie Baldwin, Jennifer Mack-Watkins, Yoonmi Nam, Lucy May Schofield, and April Vollmer—along with historical examples of mokuhanga: 19th-century ukiyo-e prints from the Sarah Moody Gallery of Art Permanent Collection and the Dr. and Mrs. William T. Price Asian Art Book Collection.

As Professor Marshall and Dr. Sung write in the accompanying catalog essay, the contemporary artists’ works “not only pay homage to the rich tradition of mokuhanga, but also engage with notions of gender and race representations, as well as quotidian experience in contemporary society.” This enlargement of the meaning of this genre is in keeping with its growth in popularity in the West since the 19th century. “[C]lassic mokuhanga icons, such as Hokusai’s The Great Wave Off Kanagawa, are now so familiar that they appear as internet memes and on fashion runways.”

“Historically, women mokuhanga artists were rarely credited in art historical narratives,” Dr. Sung said. “This exhibition aims to showcase how contemporary printmakers, especially female artists, revisit the process and broaden the traditional trajectory of the art form. This is also a great opportunity for students to learn about historical contexts in contemporary art practices.”

“Dr. Sung and I are delighted to present this work to the UA and Tuscaloosa communities, and to visitors from further afield,” Professor Marshall said. “We hope that the show will be widely visited and enjoyed. Having this work on display provides the opportunity for viewers to pause and reflect; they can “live with” the work over time and engage with it more deeply. We very much appreciate director Bill Dooley and exhibitions coordinator Vicki Rial of the Sarah Moody Gallery of Art, and all the work they have done to make this exhibition possible. Showcasing the Price Collection together with the work of contemporary women printmakers affords a unique opportunity to explore mokuhanga from different viewpoints. I am especially grateful to Dr. Sung for developing coursework that spotlights print media, directing students toward its role in the history of art as well as its potential for making work today.”

The Sarah Moody Gallery of Art, supported by the College of Arts and Sciences and the UA Department of Art and Art History, is an essential part of the education and development of UA students and our community. Admission to the gallery is free. Hours are Monday through Friday, 9:00 a.m.–4:30 p.m. when school is in session. The gallery is located at 103 Garland Hall in the heart of UA campus on Woods Quad. Information about visitor parking is available on the UA Parking Services website. We invite you to visit us for a class, an opportunity to look at art or just a quiet, meditative respite from the outside world. Visitors are welcome to wear masks inside the gallery. Have questions or need assistance? Contact the gallery at 348-1891 or visit us online.