Ura. Solo Exhibition "Delight"
2022.07.28(Thu) – 2022.08.02(Tue)
YUGEN Gallery hosted a solo exhibition from wool-modeling artist Ura. called Delight from Thursday, July 28 through Tuesday, August 2.ra.
First new works in five years. The culmination of the artist's career
An otter relaxing and looking comfortable, a boston terrier looking as comfortable as an infant in its mother's arms... The works of wool-modeling artist Ura. use animal motifs all intended to relax viewers. Ura was born in Takarazuka City, Hyogo Prefecture. After studying dress design at Kuwasawa Design School, she sought to become a shoemaker. However, she found she could never create the shoes envisioned and went through a period of such anguish that just looking at shoe advertisements caused nausea. Amidst so much doubt about continuing with shoe-making, Ura. visited a wool modeling workshop looking for a change of pace.
Animals as symbols of the imagination
Ura. says that until then, she had been unable to see the path to the envisioned finished product in shoe-making, but with wool modeling, "my hands moved on their own" and the product took shape exactly as imagined. Realizing that, "I must become a maker of things," Ura. says that it was the first time in ten years of trying that she felt free, and was so filled with joy that tears ran as she modeled.
Soon after starting wool modeling, Ura. was invited by a bag-artisan friend to participate in a two-person exhibition, and in an attempt to ease her fears over not having anything to exhibit, she decided to create a calming mentor-animal. The result was a large woolen sheep.
Ura. compresses the wool to harden it, then layers color over the top and uses a needle to guide the fibers as she gives the animal shape. Ura. says that the mental image that emerges naturally takes shape and fits into the desired size simply by moving in ways that please the hand, without any need for planning sketches.
"I was always a shy child, who used to dream of finding a big hole to live in. I never would have believed I could perform publicly." As symbols of her own imagination, the animals do not pull her into a hole, but bring her out.
Ura.'s work became an avenue for people to interact, and she and her animals began touring all over. Ura. has exhibited at the Beppu Kitakoka Shopping arcade, and at the Kinokuni Trainart event when trains and stations on the Kinokuni Line in Wakayama Prefecture were filled with art.
Finding life's joy in difference
After that, she took a break from her artistic work to have children, but she has now released new work for the first time in five years. The title "Delight" was chosen based on the joy of being able to create things once again, and in connection to the Buddhist term "kangiji," or "land of delight," which represents the first step in a monk's discipline. With a total of 72 works on display, including more than 50 old works, the sheer number itself is a true delight and an indication of Ura.'s intention to take a new step forward as an artist. This exhibition is a culmination of thirteen years of work since that first sheep.
During her period of inactivity, Ura. even considered giving as an artist. When she got YUGEN Gallery's exhibition offer, she got to work, saying, "I began to feel that someone actually remembered me and my animals, and the fox hibernating in my heart took to dancing and celebrating with me." The first new piece born of that revival is called Awakening. Four other animals, including a rabbit, join with that fox to express the primordial joy of rebirth as a wool artist, and express the enjoyment of "joy and pleasure in life" that is the theme of all the artist's activities.
Another new work, IceCream, presents her creation Maruchan, a Bichon Frise model, as an ice cream treat. A melting Maruchan and a solid one stand in the gallery as pretty as they please. The work focuses on the ways that people experience moments of happiness and delicacies differently, like how Ura. herself likes ice cream that's frozen hard, while her daughter likes it melted into a shake-like sludge.
Creativity without exploitation
Wool modeling is often used for mass-production and sales of household trinkets. Ura. explains that she found that far too difficult to do. Individual animals of the same kind all have their own characters, and Ura.'s greatest hope is that people can find joy in those differences, and be able to "accept them with an open heart."
The animals that Ura. breathes life into accept everyone, and even as we live in this unpredictable world that sweeps us all into fierce competition, their eyes look towards the value of living gently, without exploitation of anything, but making the best of your own skills to live.
Ura. was once nearly ready to close the doors on her creative life, and only a chance visit to that workshop revealed to her what she needed to be doing. That shows how the society in which we live is also open to chance, meaning that we can achieve the kind of creativity that can make society better without our even being aware of it. Animals that we encounter by chance out on a stroll can delight us with their potential, and affirm our pride without demanding anything in return.
Cow of Hope
Small-clawed otter formation 2021
*Some of the works on display are subject to change. please note that.
At the same time as the exhibition is held, it will be possible to view and purchase the works on the YUGEN Gallery official online store.
Joined Oita Prefecture's Beppu Art Month
Donated works to Wakayama Prefecture's Minakata Kumagusu Museum
Solo exhibition "turn" at Kyodo, Tokyo Cafe+Gallery Shibafu
Solo exhibition With silence and light at Kiyosumishirakawa, Tokyo SAKuRA Gallery
Lives in the Tama region of Musashino City, Tokyo.Graduate of Kuwasawa Design School.Under the theme of "the joy and pleasure of living," Ura. interrogates the shape of life through the presentation of elusive fake woolen animals. The artist creates spaces where people can be at ease with these animals, not only in the gallery but in more resonant places like beneath elevated rail tracks or in train cars. As a maker of things, Ura. seeks a path forward by allowing the hands to move as they will and says, "I make things that make people smile."Go to author page