2018 Artist Residency: Kazumi Tanaka

In 2017, Manitoga’s Artist Residency program will feature a site-specific pavilion designed and built by Master of Architecture Students from The University of Pennsylvania's School of Design. 

ARTIST RESIDENCY - kazumi tanaka

The Artist Residency program was initiated in 2014 to foster creative responses to Manitoga that invoke Russel Wright's legacy of creative experimentation and celebration of place.

INK: The Color of Manitoga

On view with Tour Participation May 18 - November 12
Purchase Tickets at BrownPaperTickets.com

Manitoga announces year five of our Artist Residency Program with the installation INK: The Color of Manitoga by Japanese artist Kazumi Tanaka who will create natural inks from plant specimens she collects in Manitoga’s woodland garden. From the color inks, a series of paintings will evolve.

Tanaka will employ her technical skills as a woodworker and antique furniture restorer to create a visually compelling Lab within the main House west gallery. There, she will experiment and make natural inks with distilled water from Manitoga’s Quarry Pool. A large-scale map will plot her collecting points over the property’s seventy-five acres, and a journal will record dates, times and the changing seasons. Visitors are invited into the Lab to experience the physical transformation from actual landscape to paintings.

The installation will be on view during seasonal public tours, beginning May 18, as well as for special programs and events. A Member Opening Celebration is planned for Saturday, June 9, 5-7pm.

Executive Director Allison Cross observes that “the project lies at the intersection of art and record-keeping, science and nature, ideas and handcraft – moving between the tangible and the conceptual as it engages Russel Wright’s legacy as a craftsman, designer, naturalist and visionary.”

The work also evokes Wright’s relationship with Japan – a place that deeply influenced the creation of Manitoga and his later professional work. Tanaka was born in Osaka in a house made of wood, stone, bamboo and paper, and her work often involves her childhood memories there. “When I first visited Manitoga, I was very taken with its quiet beauty, which reminded me of some of the most beautiful landscapes I experienced while growing up in Japan. The architecture has both translucent and tranquilizing qualities and is part of the landscape that Wright cultivated over many years from a broken land.”

Tanaka adds that “Wright was one of the most popular American designers of his generation. He had so many ideas that were witty, practical and simple, yet many of his designs carry traits of Nature's complexity - for example, the color glazes he meticulously created for his American Modern and Iroquois Casual dinnerware. Inspired by his work, I will create color from the landscape created by him at Manitoga.”

INK: The Color of Manitoga builds upon the artist’s earlier work making watercolor drawings with tea, coffee, and other natural foods as well as her 2015 project Mother and Child Reunion at The Fabric Workshop and Museum in Philadelphia which involved experiments in indigo dye making – a traditional Japanese craft.

Installation Design: Kazumi Tanaka
Furniture Maker: Jon Richert
Graphic design: Randall Martin


Artist Statement

I was born in Osaka, Japan, in a house made of wood, stone, bamboo and paper. At age 25,  I relocated to New York City in 1987. Employing both ancient and modern sculpting techniques, I create intricate and conceptually complex works that often involve childhood memories of Japan. My evocative work addresses the connection between the ephemeral nature of memory and the tangible mementos of history. It is a continuous search filtered through time and distance.


Kazumi Tanaka (b. 1962, Osaka, Japan) graduated from Osaka University in 1985 before relocating to New York in 1987, where she studied sculpture at the New York Studio School (1987–1990). Employing both ancient and modern sculpting techniques, Tanaka creates intricate and conceptually complex works that often involve childhood memories of Japan and address cultural differences between Eastern and Western lifestyles. She has exhibited at museums and galleries around the world. Solo exhibitions include presentations at the Kent Gallery between 1995 and 2003; as well as shows at the New Museum of Contemporary Art, New York (1993); Beacon Project Space, Beacon, New York (2002); and Hudson Beach Glass Gallery, Beacon, New York (2011). Tanaka’s work has been included in numerous group exhibitions, including A Labor of Love, at the New Museum of Contemporary Art (1996); The Quiet in the Land, at the Portland Institute of Contemporary Art at the Maine College of Art (1997); Model World at the Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum, Ridgefield, Connecticut (2002); and Salem2Salem, at Neues Museum, Salem, Germany (2012). Most recently, her work has been included in the group exhibition Silence, at Masters & Pelavin Gallery, New York (2012). Tanaka has participated in numerous residencies, including the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture, Skowhegan, Maine (1990); the United Society of Shakers, Sabbathday Lake, Maine (1996); in Salem, Germany (2010, 2012); Art Omi in New York (2013); and at the Citivella Ranieri Center in Umbria, Italy (2014). She lives and works in Beacon, New York.


Middle: Mountain Laurel, Natural Ink Watercolor, Kazumi Tanaka, February 2018; Bottom: Photo, Collected Specimen - Mountain Laurel, Kazumi Tanaka, February 2018