Recent Art Collaborations in Japan

IÂ’ve done a lot of art collaborating in Japan via internet this year, thanks in great part to my art agent, Keisuke Era, who is also the director of Kurkku, an arts and environmental action center in the Harajuku district of Tokyo. Kurkku is funded by Artist Power Bank, a not-for-profit with impressive environmental protection projects like Pre Organic Cotton.

POC is an organization that approaches cotton farmers in India and offers to support them for the three years it takes to transition from petro-chemical agriculture to organic agriculture, inspect their farms to be sure the soil and plants are chemical-free and healthy, and then buy all the cotton they grow from that time onward. POC then approaches major clothing manufacturers and sells them organic cotton. Lee Jeans Japan made a line of women’s jeans from POCÂ’s organic cotton this past year, and when they did, I was hired to illustrate a booklet that was attached to each pair of jeans. (Major advantage: some villages in India no longer have carcinogens in their water supply and in the air surrounding their cotton fields.) Here’s the cover of the booklet:

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When Artist Power Bank (aka ap bank) held their annual summer rock festival in 2009, I was hired to design a jacquard towel and a t-shirt drawing as festival merchandise, and, of course, both were made of organic cotton.

Here is the 2010 festival towel, designed by Aiko Shiratori of Artist Power Bank, using a drawing she requested from me of a large flower (I made an Echinacea blossom).  Keisuke said the festival looked like a field of yellow and blue flowers, so many of the attendees had them wrapped around their shoulders.

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KurkkuÂ’s merchandise designers, Miyumi Ichikawa and Yoshiko Takeuchi decided to have a traditional tenugui maker in Kyoto print some tenugui for them on Pre Organic CottonÂ’s fabric, and commissioned a design from me for it. They requested an image of a little girl playing in the woods. Here it is:

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Here are my collaborators. The gentleman on the left is Keisuke Era. On the right side, in the red shawl is Kurkku’s Miyumi Ichikawa and, to her left, Yoshiko Takeuchi. Next to them, in very dark blue, is Aiko Shiratori, who designed the merchandise for Artist Power BankÂ’s festival this year.

This is an information sheet on the tenugui. It explains that the image was printed in four different traditional colors: pine green, the brown of bamboo shoot, the yellow of “silver grass” and pink of a flower called “Sakichiku.”

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