The Collegian
Tuesday, May 28, 2024

Visiting artist talks about work featured at Richmond's InLight festival

Giant lanterns lit the rainy skies for the Inlight Richmond event
Giant lanterns lit the rainy skies for the Inlight Richmond event

Collegian Reporter

Standing at the front of the room in a simple black outfit, Tatiana Ginsberg prepared to give a talk to a handful of college students. Her slight build belied the approachable authority with which she spoke. She good-humoredly tried to dispel the myth of "rice" paper and talked about the sustainability of materials.

She began her presentation by talking about islands and isolation as a theme in her life. Her slides displayed the intricate process of creating traditional Japanese hand-made paper and natural dyes. It concluded with photos of her own artwork.

In order to expose students to a variety of ways to use an art education, faculty from the department of art and art history invite visiting artists with a range of backgrounds to speak to students throughout the year, said Tanja Softic, associate professor of art.

"It would be foolish to focus only on the stars in the art world," she said.

After Softic and Ginsberg met at the World Washi Conference in Toronto, where Ginsberg spoke, Softic invited Ginsberg to be a visiting artist. Softic uses traditional Japanese paper in her own work and also in her classes. Since her students are just beginning to use the material, she said she wanted them to appreciate how it was made. Ginsberg spoke to the university community in the Modlin Center for the Arts at noon on Thursday, Sept. 4.

Ginsberg graduated from Sarah Lawrence College with a degree in fine arts, but admitted to students that she found it difficult to keep making art after school. She worked at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City for several years before taking a workshop in Japanese paper making. She said it felt right to her and decided to move to Iowa City to study traditional paper making at the University of Iowa Center for the Book.

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In Iowa, she won a Fulbright grant and spent a year studying the natural dyes with which she had fallen in love with in Japan. She wanted to be able to work with vibrant and saturated colors without chemicals.

"People always have this idea that natural dyes are fugitive," she said. She set out to learn how to prove them wrong.

After spending more than a year craftsmen in Japan, she moved to California to create her own artwork. She is was one of the few in the world who knows this method of dying paper, she said.

Her installations and work have been shown across the country but she was in Richmond to showcase at the InLight festival. Her installation "glimmer" was in the Richmond Camera Shop at 213 W. Broad St. on Sept. 5. InLight comprised a series of installations and artwork along a few blocks of Broad Street. Ginsberg said she had been intrigued by the light element of the festival.

Light affects art and changes it throughout the day and Ginsberg said she wanted to participate in a festival celebrating this idea. She also admitted that when she saw the call for entry on the College Art Association Web site she wanted to visit Richmond and entered.

InLight organizers planned for the exhibition to use the architecture of downtown Richmond as a backdrop. Tatjana Beylotte, Gallery 1708 executive director and InLight organizer, said they had wanted to show the juxtaposition of traditional architecture and contemporary art. The Broad Street location features some empty storefronts in the midst of revitalization that were used for installations. She said that it would bring a lot of people into the area. The festival featured 40 artists showing their work despite the rainy weather. Beylotte said the artists had come from all over the country and the world to Richmond.

Softic said one of her goals in inviting Ginsberg had been to unite the university and the city. The black-clad artist quietly brought the city of Richmond and a global perspective to a group of Richmond art students.

Contact reporter Kaileigh Connolly at

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