Ruth Funk Center to Host Exhibit of Japanese Bamboo Sculpture

Florida Tech Facility Only Sunshine State Site for Show

MELBOURNE, FLA. — The Ruth Funk Center for Textile Arts at Florida Institute of Technology is pleased to announce its latest exhibit, Modern Twist: Contemporary Japanese Bamboo Art, an exhibition exploring the innovative shape bamboo art has taken since the mid-20th century.

Modern Twist is on view at the Funk from Jan. 31 through April 25, the show’s only stop in Florida. It will conclude its national tour with two exhibitions in California.

Curated by Andreas Marks at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts and organized by International Arts and Artists, Modern Twist features a stunning selection of works from the Clark Center for Japanese Art and Culture in Hanford, Calif. With rare wall-hung installations and pieces never before seen in the United States, this exhibition, which was developed by Asian art specialist Margalit Monroe, both engages and educates audiences about a vibrant cultural art form.

“The Ruth Funk Center is thrilled to be the only Florida venue for this unique exhibition of Japanese art by world-renowned artists,” said Carla Funk, Florida Tech’s director of university museums. “We hope that Modern Twist, in presenting contemporary interpretations of the ancient tradition of bamboo weaving, will also expose our audience to the vibrant diversity of the textile arts and widen their appreciation of fiber as an artistic medium.”

Bamboo is a quintessential part of Japanese culture, shaping the country’s social, artistic and spiritual landscape. Although bamboo is an abundant natural resource, it is a challenging artistic medium with less than 100 professional bamboo artists in Japan today. Mastering the art form requires decades of meticulous practice learning how to harvest, split and plait, or braid, the bamboo. Modern Twist brings the work of 17 of these artists to the Space Coast, and their pieces display a mastery of the supreme technical skills inherent in their innovative and imaginatively crafted sculptures.

The emergence of bamboo as a sculptural art form has religious and cultural roots. In Japan, functional objects have been woven from bamboo for hundreds of years. By the 8th century, bamboo baskets were incorporated into Buddhist ceremonies, and held flower petals that were offered to deities in sacred rituals. During the 15th and 16th centuries, bamboo vases, tea scoops, ladles, and whisks became important features of Japanese traditions, such as flower arrangements (ikebana) and tea gatherings (chanoyu and senchado).

Modern Twist examines the rising awareness of this medium as an innovative art form. In the last 100 years, the creativity and talent of bamboo basket makers have elevated their status from artisans to artists. These artists have redefined aesthetic conventions by experimenting with nonfunctional forms, and their creations have evolved from functional vessels to increasingly sculptural objects.

Since 1967, six bamboo artists have been named Living National Treasures, a designation created by the Japanese government after World War II in an effort to celebrate and preserve the nation’s traditions and culture. Only two living bamboo artists —Katsushiro Soho (2005) and Fujinuma Noboru (2012) — currently hold this title, and both have works in Modern Twist.

In addition, the exhibition features works by other visionary artists: Matsumoto Hafu, Honma Hideaki, Ueno Masao, Uematsu Chikuyu, Nagakura Ken’ichi, Tanabe Chikuunsai III, Tanabe Yota, Tanabe Shochiku III, Tanioka Shigeo, Tanioka Aiko, Honda Shoryu, Mimura Chikuho, Nakatomi Hajime, Sugiura Noriyoshi and Yonezawa Jiro.

The Ruth Funk Center for Textile Arts is the only textiles center in the state of Florida and one of very few in the nation. The center preserves and displays an international collection of textiles through rotating public exhibitions and educational programs.

Admission to the center is free. Regular hours are 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday through Friday and noon to 4 p.m. Saturday. The center is next to Evans Library on the Florida Tech campus, 150 W. University Blvd. in Melbourne. For more information, visit or call (321) 674-8313.


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