The Nippon Club Special Exhibition "Elegant Creatures: Insects, Reptiles, and crustaceans in Japanese art"

Feb 16, 2023 - Mar 09, 2023

About Exhibition

Living creatures on our planet Earth are divided into plants and animals. It is said that the total number of known species worldwide is about 2.16 million. Still, there is a theory that the total number of species on the Earth, including creatures yet to be discovered, numbers many millions more.

It is said that about 10% to 30% of known animal species are at risk of extinction due to human activities. Biodiversity is particularly vulnerable to climate change. If the global overall temperature increases by 1.5⁰ to 2.5⁰ C, about twenty to thirty percent of all species will be at extinction risk. A further increase above 4⁰ C would be disastrous, with more than forty percent of species gone forever from our environment. If an animal cannot tolerate changes to its environment, it will become extinct if it cannot respond by adaptation or migration.

All living creatures on Earth are interconnected. In recent years dragonflies and other small insects have been disappearing. This has dire consequences for the ecosystem: animals higher and lower on the food chain that depend on them are also threatened with extinction.
During this climate change, The Nippon Club will hold an exhibition to introduce outstanding works of art on the theme of “Elegant Creatures.” This will feature insects, crustaceans, and reptiles to understand environmental problems under the Sustainable Develop Goals (SDGs) defined by the United Nations. Since ancient times, Japanese people have naturally appreciated living creatures in everyday life as tools and symbols in craftsmanship. In early China, jade cicadas were placed in the mouths of the dead to make them immortal. In medieval Europe, reptiles and insects were treated as art subjects. But, no other culture has depicted these creatures in as much detail and humor as Japan.

The works with the motif of “living creatures” introduced in this exhibition are by craftsmen with excellent skills, such as the Imperial Household artist. The insects are expressed humorously and lively. Through this exhibition, we hope that you will feel new gratitude for receiving the blessings of nature and help you think again about Mother Earth and environmental conservation to protect it. It will be held in a hybrid of actual and online exhibitions.
(Reference: Ministry of the Environment, 2008 White Paper on the Environment/Recycling oriented society, “Chapter 6 Conservation of the Natural Environment and Promotion of Contact with Nature)

Works to be exhibited at The Nippon Club WEB Gallery

The two most extensive collections on the United States East Coast will be exhibited. Both collectors have been collected since the early 1970s; we show three pieces of ceramic by Miyagawa (Makuzu) Kozan (1842-1916), who was appointed as the Imperial Household artist in the Ceramists category of the Meiji period. There also will be over 30 Japanese works of art, including a vase of metalwork by Kiritsu Kosho gaisha with a silkworm moth, cloisonné enamels, Jizai (articulated) okimono of a butterfly and a silver lobster, intricate jewelry with superb mixed metal inlays of insects and some textiles. A great highlight is an Ando cloisonné vase with a motif of a white snake on a mottled blue glaze. This piece was exhibited at the Panama Pacific International Exhibition in 1915.

This exhibition is organized by The Nippon Club, supported by JCC Fund, and curated by Sachiko Hori.