Hanging in the windows of the Multicultural Center this semester is something called “noren,” a Japanese curtain that would typically be displayed in a store window, as part of “Ichiban!: An Exhibition of Japanese Art and Culture.”
The pictures on the curtains, according to professor Noelle King, generally imply what items would be sold in that shop.
“Ichiban,” the title of the latest art exhibit in the Multicultural Center, can be broken down into two parts: “ichi,” meaning “number one,” and “ban,” meaning “fabulous,” according to King.
The art exhibit, which is celebrating the 150th anniversary of the first diplomatic mission of Japan to the United States, opened on Sept. 7 and displays “fine art and objects of daily use.”
“The goal of the exhibition is to introduce people to the arts and culture of Japan,” said King.
King is an art history professor who is currently teaching an “Arts of Japan” course. She said her students are working on the exhibit, learning how to coordinate it, and making labels for each piece of artwork.
One of the items on display in the Multicultural Center is a “hanging scroll,” which has an image of a crane and a pine tree.
“The crane is a symbol of peace and immortality,” King said, “and the pine tree also immortality and longevity and good fortune. So this is a very good image for our university.”
Some other items on display include a Buddhist gong which is used in a prayer ceremony, a miniature version of a “torii gate,” which symbolizes a place being sacred to the Shinto religion, and a plush version of
“Totoro,” which is a “tree spirit” character from a popular anime film.
Dian Brown-Albert, coordinator of the multicultural student activities, said she is excited about the exhibit.
“I’m looking forward to seeing the students [of King’s class] come in and put their touch on the exhibit,” Brown-Albert said, “and then educating the campus about the Japanese culture.”
King and Brown-Albert are also coordinating programs to coincide with the Japanese theme of the exhibit, including an introduction to the art of Japanese flower arrangement and a program called “Celebrating Playfulness,” in which a woman will teach and perform traditional Japanese dances.
On Oct. 7, King’s class will be holding a reception for both SCSU and the New Haven community at the exhibit, and will be available to explain further about the art that is on display.