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Events - 08.16.2022

Tradition & Modernity in Japanese Bamboo Baskets

Bamboo basket by Tanabe Chikuunsai IV
Photograph by Minamoto Tadayuki

08.16.2022 (Tue.)


05:00 PM - 06:00 PM (PDT)





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For millennia, the Japanese have woven bamboo strips into utilitarian baskets for storing and preparing food. From around the 8th century, special flower baskets were made to hold offerings at Buddhist temples, and by the 15th century, with the evolution of the tokonoma alcove and the tea ceremony, woven bamboo flower containers began appearing in homes and tea rooms too. Although Japan’s westernization in the late 19th century and the adoption of plastic containers after WWII, caused the craft of bamboo basket to decline, recent support from the Japanese government and international art galleries, museums and art collectors have revitalized bamboo basket making. Now Japanese bamboo baskets are shown in museum exhibitions worldwide.

TAI Modern in Santa Fe has been the world’s leading gallery for Japanese bamboo art for over 20 years and currently represents 35 Japanese bamboo artists, including Tanabe Chikuunsai IV. Margo Thoma, director of TAI Modern, will give a slide presentation outlining the history of bamboo baskets in Japan and the emergence of Japanese bamboo baskets as a contemporary art form. She will introduce some of the leading bamboo basket artists today, including several notable artists in the Kansai region and the Chikuunsai lineage.

Guest Speaker

Margo Thoma was born in Illinois in 1980. She moved to Santa Fe in 2006 after graduating from Stanford with a BA in Art History. She co-founded the contemporary art gallery Eight Modern in 2007 and in 2017 purchased TAI Gallery, merging it with her existing gallery, to create TAI Modern.

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She and TAI’s team have continued gallery founder Rob Coffland’s mission of encouraging and advocating for Japanese bamboo art worldwide. Works by TAI Modern artists have been placed in such prestigious institutions as the Art Institute of Chicago, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and the Asian Art Museum, San Francisco.

Thoma has supported the Oita prefectural government’s efforts to promote bamboo art to the West by serving as an advisor, facilitating public demos, and curating public bamboo art exhibitions. She is an active collaborator with and ally for senior artists across Japan, while simultaneously championing emerging bamboo artists by sponsoring submission fees and travel expenses. She has written essays for exhibition catalogs both in the U.S. and in Japan and spoken publicly on bamboo art. 

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