As I was planning my stay in Japan last fall, a dear neighbor introduced me to an artist that she said I had to meet - Sarah Brayer. The nishijin neighborhood in northern Kyoto, where I chose to stay, was one of Kyoto’s most traditional areas famed for their kimono textile weaving. The clatter of weaving looms drifted out of open windows as I walked along the small streets. Coincidentally, it was also where Sarah’s studio had been located since 1986. Converted from an old kimono weaving factory, her print studio was tucked away just above a large, beautiful Zen temple complex. I instantly felt a connection to Sarah on our first visit. I pored over her new woodblock prints, chatted cultural observations, drank tea, and admired the pink-tinged clouds.
First visit to Sarah Brayer's studio in northern Kyoto.
Our first meeting calls for a self-timed selfie!
Sarah and I met up several more times during my stay in Kyoto and we began chatting about a potential collaboration. She had a solo exhibition in New York City coming up in 2023 and we talked about the possibility of woodblock printing on fabric. When I got back to New York, I made a few experiments and we continued the conversation.
Experiment with encasing printed washi paper within fabric.
Ten months later, she was in New York City, and this time, it was my turn to welcome her to my studio! At the end of a very fun brainstorming session, we finalized our idea for a jacket based off of NOT's Corded Jacket that would incorporate custom printed sleeves. Her exhibition opening in November would be the perfect occasion. I sent Sarah back to Kyoto with a few yards of fabric.
We mock up a sleeve placement at NOT studio.
Sarah shared with me photos of the progress from her Kyoto studio through email, and a month later I received the printed fabric in the mail.
Preparing a sheet of fabric for printing.
Four variants of woodblock printing on fabric.
The final garment came together in NOT’s studio and Sarah and I met again before her opening to style the final look. It was such a joy to get to know Sarah throughout this past year and to be able to create this garment together is a very special memory for me.
Fabric detail on the cutting table.
Sarah tries on the final look at NOT studio.
Sarah and Jenny in front of her artwork "Hidden Falls" at Ronin Gallery.
Sarah Brayer’s solo exhibition “Scintillate” is on view Nov. 4 - December 15 at Ronin Gallery (32 W. 40th St./ Bryant Park). The exhibition displays her recent prints and paper works depicting the moon and cascading water. The gallery itself is an intimate gem located within the historic Engineer’s Club Building. If you are in New York City, do stop by and enjoy Sarah’s new works! The powerful sense of movement, textures, and refreshing colors have to be experienced in person.
Find more about the exhibition here: https://www.roningallery.com/exhibitions/Scintillate_Sarah_Brayer
About the Artist:
Sarah Brayer is an American visual artist based in Kyoto, internationally known for her poured washi paperworks and aquatint prints. Brayer’s art is in the collections of the British Museum, the National Museum of Asian Art, the New York Public Library, and the American Embassy in Tokyo. In 1979, she found her way to Japan and began studying Japanese woodblock printing with Toshi Yoshida. In 1986, she opened her own print studio in an old kimono weaving factory in northern Kyoto. Brayer first encountered poured washi during a visit to Dieu Donne paper studio in New York City. This led her to the ancient Japanese paper center of Echizen where she began experimenting with large-scale poured paper images, a place where she continues to work since 1986 as the only western artist to do so.
Find out about the artist here: https://sarahbrayer.com/