Japanese ‘Propaganda’ Kimonos Focus of Funk Center Exhibition

Exhibition Curated from the
Center’s Permanent Collection

MELBOURNE, FLA. — A new exhibition showcasing the complex visual motifs of Japanese wartime kimonos opened Jan. 26 at the Ruth Funk Center for Textile Arts on the Florida Tech campus.

Curated almost exclusively from the Center’s permanent collection, Designed to Mobilize: Propaganda Kimono 1920-1945 presents kimonos and associated textiles from one of the most distinctive periods of textile production in Japanese history.

The beginning of the 20th century was a time of momentous change in Japanese society. Successes in early military conflicts fueled economic development and a focus on expansionist ideals. By the end of World War I in late 1918, the country’s desire to establish its standing as a modern world leader led to a dedicated emphasis on the development of technology and strengthening of design in the arts and elsewhere.

The new exhibition will feature over 75 historic textiles, including the iconography, motifs and metaphors displayed on objects manufactured as propaganda between 1931 and 1945, a turbulent period that included the Second Sino-Japanese War and World War II.

Propaganda textiles were manufactured on the home front in Japan and its territories by and for Japanese citizens. Produced within a nation primed to advance its cultural identity on the world stage, these textiles provide an important lens for understanding the role of consumerism, coercion and fashion during a remarkable and controversial period of transition.

Grouped by visual themes, this exhibition focuses on the motifs and metaphors displayed on under-robes and jackets for adults, as well as textile fragments, and children’s garments. To illustrate the universal use of propaganda, the exhibition will also highlight a small selection of American propaganda textiles from the private collection of renowned scholar and author Jacqueline Atkins.

The exhibition will be accompanied by programs highlighting both wartime history and Japanese culture. At 1:30 p.m. on opening day Jan. 26, the center will host a gallery talk by David Miller, author and board member of the Brevard Veterans Memorial Center. This special event, “A Military Historian’s Take on Propaganda Textiles,” will take place in the center’s gallery and is free and open to the public. Reservations are not necessary.

Later in the year, there will be a Friends of Textiles Lecture Series presentation, and on April 26, the theatrical Japanese drumming group Ronin Taiko will present a performance in Gleason Performing Arts Center on the Florida Tech campus.

Regular hours for the center will be 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday through Friday and noon to 4 p.m. Saturday. The center is located next to Evans Library on the Florida Tech campus, 150 W. University Blvd. in Melbourne. Admission is free. More information and event details are available at http://textiles.fit.edu/.


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