54:AnthroClub:Field Trip

18 12 2008

Alecia Barela
Nestled in the agrarian community of Hanford, California is an extraordinary museum devoted to Asian art. This gem draws thousands of visitors each year from around the world to its location in the hushed countryside. The Clark Center for Japanese Art & Culture is an institution dedicated to the preservation, study, and showing of Japanese art to the public. Established in 1995, the center continues to increase in popularity while expanding its collection. Presently the institute’s collection consists of works ranging from the 10th to 21st century.

The Anthro Club visited the museum to view its fall exhibit “They Swim, Fly, Wiggle, Walk, or Slither: The Hidden Code of Animals in Japanese Art.” The exhibit’s amazing collection featured paintings, hanging scrolls, sculptures, woodblock prints, ceramics, baskets, and byobu (folding screens). Many of the pieces were created during the Edo Period (1600-1868). Club members were amazed by the artistry and the skill, some dating back centuries. We were able to learn about and appreciate the symbolic relevance of animals in Japanese culture.

The exhibit highlighted the twelve animals of the Zodiac based on a lunisolar cycle. Also displayed in the artwork were Japan’s domestic fauna as well as some foreign animals rendered by Japanese artists. The animal showcase included roosters, hawks, koi (carp), fireflies, turtles, monkeys, peacocks, tigers, ducks, crows, and dragons. In all members learned about seventeen different animals and their cultural significance. It was a humbling and rewarding experience to be able to stand up close to these objects. Through art, we were able to see how society expressed themselves in the past and formed meaning in their lives and how they continue to in modern times. Beautiful and enlightening, it is a luxury to have this institute so close in proximity and it certainly will be revisited by the Anthro Club in the near future.

Apart from the museum’s treasures, the Clark Center also features a bonsai garden, a library, and a gift shop. For more information about the Clark Center for Japanese Art & Culture, please visit http://www.ccjac.org. The center holds several exhibits a year and admission is modestly priced at only $3 for students with proof of ID.