George Nakashima and Mira Nakashima: Keisho / Continuance
March 4—April 5, 2015
Talk by Mira Nakashima: Wednesday, March 4, 4:30 PM
Lang Performing Arts Center Cinema
List Gallery reception follows: 5:30-7:00 PM
This exhibition brings together signature works by legendary woodworker and designer, George Nakashima (1905-1990), and new designs by his daughter, Mira Nakashima (born 1942), who has continued the Nakashima atelier since her father’s death. The exhibition also includes designs such as Table for Peace, which reflect the designers’ belief in art as an expression of spirituality and peacemaking. As George Nakashima once stated, “We have the audacity to work this material. In a sense it is our yoga, our union with The Divine. …We roam the world to search our own relationships with these trees.”
George Nakashima was born in Spokane, Washington in 1905 and grew up in the forests of the Olympic Peninsula. He received a Bachelor's Degree in architecture at the University of Washington and a Master's from M.I.T. in 1930, as well as the Prix Fontainebleau from L'Ecole Americaine des Beaux Arts in France in 1928. He subsequently traveled around the world and joined the Antonin Raymond office in Tokyo for which he oversaw the construction of a major building at the ashram of the Hindi spiritual leader, Sri Aurobindo in Pondicherry, Tamil Nadu, India. While there, he became a disciple of Aurobindo and was given the Sanskrit name Sundarananda (“One who delights in Beauty.” During his work in Pondicherry, he became one of the first disciples of Sri Aurobindo. He subsequently returned to Tokyo, where he became engaged to Marion Okajima, an American-born woman of Samurai heritage. The couple returned to the United States due to escalating military conflict in the Pacific. His daughter, Mira Nakashima, was born in Seattle in 1942 and interned with her parents at Minidoka, Idaho (1942-43). At the internment camp he met and studied traditional Japenese carpentry with Gentaro HIkogawa, who had studied traditional Japanese carpentry. Soon after the family was released to a farm in the New Hope, Pa. area, Nakashima established a furniture shop nearby. HIs many awards include the American Institute of Architects Gold Craftsmanship Medal, The Catholic Art Association Medal, Fellowship in the American Crafts Council, and The Third Order of the Sacred Treasure, bestowed by the Japanese Government.
Mira Nakashima graduated cum laude from Harvard University and earned a masters in architecture from Wasea University in Japan. In 1966, she returned to work in her father’s studio. After his death in 1990, she continued to create works according to his designs and instituted her own series, titled “Keisho” meaning “continuation” or “succession.” Her designs include sanctuary furnishings for St. George’s Church in Titusville, New Jersey (1991-2) and the George Nakashima Memorial Reading Room for the James A. Michener Art Museum (1993). She is also completing her father’s vision of building and placing peace altars on the seven continents. The first, titled Peace Table, was completed by George Nakashima in 1986 and installed at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine, New York City. Mira Nakashima subsequently installed a second peace table at the Unity Pavilion in the “City of Peace” Auroville, India (1996) and a third at the Academy of Art in Moscow, Russia (2001). A fourth table is to be installed in Cape Town, South Africa at the Desmond Tutu Peace Center. In 2003 Mira curated a retrospective show of George Nakashima's work at the Mingei international museum in San Diego and published the accompanying catalog, Celebrating the Nakashima Legacy.
Mira Nakashima is the Donald J. Gordon Visiting Artist.