"Brown Hornet’s Nest Bowl" | Kozo paper, hornet’s nest | 3.5 x 6.5 x 6.5 inches | 2011

Ones to Watch: Kay Sekimachi

Renowned fiber and textile artist Kay Sekimachi brings to her exquisite three-dimensional artwork the same genius that Picasso brought to a single expressive line on paper or canvas. She combines a bold American inventiveness with the sophisticated poetry of her Japanese cultural heritage.

Early in Sekimachi’s development, innovative textile designer and weaver Jack Larsen introduced her to the Bauhaus philosophy, which emphasized improved functionality without sacrifice of aesthetics and encouraged artists to experiment with eclectic materials. Reflecting on some of these influences, Sekimachi says she is particularly proud of her early monofilament sculptures, card-woven tubular hangings and woven nesting boxes: “All were difficult to do but challenging and fun to figure out.”

Sekimachi’s 60-plus-year career is a marvel of exploration and originality. Her recent exhibition at the Jane Sauer Gallery in Santa Fe, New Mexico, confirms that, in her mid-80s, the artist’s star still burns brightly. A trio of styles were highlighted: small, minimalist weavings of hand-dyed linen thread; diaphanous bowls formed from “skeletal leaves” (real leaves eaten away by insects, leaving behind their lacy veins); and delicate wasp-nest-paper bowls. 

In addition to the Jane Sauer Gallery, Sekimachi’s work is represented by Brown/Grotta Arts in Connecticut, and is in both private and public collections, including the Oakland Museum of California.

Kay Sekimachi’s art floats on our consciousness, translating concrete materials into a statement about the transitory quality of life. The three guiding tenets of her life still hold true: “I love order. I love working within limitations. I love the calm work brings.”

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