Artist Takara contributes to SJ museum exhibit

Corinne Takara courtesy of Corinne Takara

SAN JOSE — Mixed media artist Corinne Okada Takara combines her passion for design, textiles and fabrics to capture life in Silicon Valley in a concrete way.

Collaborating with two other artists, Takara developed unique textile designs for the artwear installation “TECHstyle SoftWEAR: Surface and Shape,” at the San Jose Museum of Quilts and Textiles. The exhibit runs through Oct. 31.

The exhibit utilizes textiles designed by Takara, which were incorporated into sculptural artwear created by Colleen Quen as part of an environment created by Rick Lee.

As part of fusionwear sv, Takara invited the community to submit imagery representing the Silicon Valley experience in order to create a “visual vocabulary.” Using the collected images, Okada translated the “visual vocabulary” into textile designs that were digitally printed onto fabric. The fabrics based on Takara’s designs were given to Quen, who created artwear sculptures.

Takara is a Yonsei whose great-grandparents came from Kyushu, Japan to Hawai‘i. Her father is of Japanese ancestry. He was born in Kahului, Maui, and spent his early childhood on a plantation in Paia. Takara’s mother is of Irish, German, Scottish and Dutch ancestry. Takara added that her great-grandmother emigrated from Ireland and worked as a lace maker in Tennessee.

EVERY LINEN HAS A SILVER CLOUD — “Surface and Shape” at the San Jose Museum of Quilts and Textiles. photo by Anthony Chen

Nichi Bei Weekly: How does your exhibit, TECHstyle SoftWEAR: Surface and Shape, represent life in Silicon Valley?

Corinne Takara: Our installation reflects life in Silicon Valley in several ways: First, we asked the community at large to submit photos, thoughts and sketches of what they thought represented Silicon Valley and these became the visual vocabulary from which I drew inspiration in creating my digital textiles. Secondly, Colleen created artwear sculptures that speak to the visceral pleasures, intellectual vitality and emotional tensions experienced by residents of a region driven by fast paced innovation. Thirdly, Rick Lee’s suspended mirror e-cloud installation hovers above, reflecting not only facets of the garments, but the viewer as well, and in doing so, blends the viewer into the installation itself.

NBW: Can you describe the exhibit? What was your inspiration?

CT: TECHstyle SoftWEAR is meant to engage the viewer in thinking about what many visual components represent our region today, yesterday and in the future. It is a stage-like space that is occupied by two forms in dialog under a reflective cloud, which fragments and recombines the fabrics, viewer and room in shifting ways as one moves about the space.

NBW: Can you describe the kinds of textiles and fabrics you used for this exhibit?

CT: Colleen Quen selected the fabrics upon which my digital textile designs were printed. These fabrics were cotton lawn (printed by www.spoonflower.com), silk organza and silk chiffon printed by the TechStyleLAB at The Fashion School at Kent State University.

This sculpture incorporates heavier-weight cotton lawn fabric (a reference to the clothes of agricultural workers) with light and flowing silks (referencing the airiness of information on the Internet).

NBW: What kind of role did the community play in inspiring the fabric designs? What kinds of ideas did the public submit to you?

CT: The community played a large role in inspiring the designs I created. Over 40 individuals contributed 159 photos, sketches and writings to the fusionwear sv collection project, which kicked off my textile design process. I received images of people, nature and architecture. Examples include the foothills, aerial images of the salt ponds of the Bay, redwood trees, Apple Computer corporate offices, keyboards, solar panels, Eichler homes, San Jose City Hall, beaches, libraries, fruit trees and people in cultural garments.

In addition, I created a textile contest for the public to enter. There were five winning fabrics included in the installation, as well. There were 46 image submissions to the fabric contest and over 280 people who voted either online or in person at the SubZero Festival. Voting closed on June 11.

NBW: What kind of textile designs did you create?

CT: I created fabrics organized into five physical zones to anchor Silicon Valley into physical space: air/sky, mountains, valley, underground/fertile soil and bay. These physical zones were also metaphors for intangible aspects of our environment.

NBW: Can you explain what “artwear sculpture” is and how it relates to fusionwear sv?

CT: The artwear sculptures are what Colleen Quen created from the digital textiles generated by the fusionwear sv project (using both the winning textiles from the public contest and my textile creations). An artwear sculpture is not intended to be a wearable garment. It is a sculptural design that is created in the context of the body, but is not meant to be worn and walked about in.

NBW: Can you describe the collaborative process between you, Colleen Quen and Rick Lee? How did you coordinate the exhibit?

CT: It was a really great process in a very short time frame. Colleen and I had several initial brainstorming conversations in May to loosely frame our ideas. Periodically, I would send Colleen sketches to share my textile ideas in progress. I created the fabrics in June after the fusionwear sv collection process closed. I shared my final textile designs with Colleen and Rick in mid-June. Colleen looked over paper printouts of the digital designs and arranged them in groups that she felt would work well in the garments and she decided on the fabrics (organza, chiffon and cotton lawn). I then went through the process of preparing the files for ordering as fabrics. Colleen and Rick prepared sketches. We had several dinner meetings as a group with the executive director of the San Jose Museum of Quilts and Textiles to review as we went along. It was a very tight deadline, so we collaborated in these meetings and then went apart to work on our separate components. Both Rick and Colleen shared sketches and models in late June and July. We all are installing the installation together.

The San Jose Museum of Quilts and Textiles is located at 520 South First St. in San Jose. For information, call (408) 971-0323.

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