By Patricia Belyea
When Victoria was in Tokyo last October, she got together for coffee with textile artist Sanae Naito.
Sanae sent Victoria home with a gift for me. A small brown book laden with Post-It markers.
Titled 100 Years of Samiro Yunoki: Trajectory of Creation, the book introduced me to Japan’s treasured textile artist Samiro Yunoki.
All the markers in the books indicated where Sanae had contributed to the publication. I learned that the book was created by Joshibi University of Arts and Design where Mr. Yunoki taught for 50 years, finishing his time there as president of the school.
Celebrating Mr. Yunoki’s centennial birthday, the book honors his wonderful creative spirit.
Mr. Yunoki discovered the philosophy of the Mingei folk-art movement at a young age—that artistic beauty can be found in everyday useful things. He went on to train with Serizawa, one of Japan’s most influential textile artists.
Pure naivety and joy imbue Mr. Yunoki’s designs. His dynamic work hangs in art museums as well as folk art museums around the world.
After his academic years, Mr. Yunoki became famous as a designer — creating graphics for corporate clients like Ace Hotels and Dean & DeLuca.
Over Zoom, I asked Sanae if Mr. Yunoki was one of her teachers at Joshibi. No, she told me, he was gone by then. Mr. Yunoki was her teacher’s teacher.
Well, did you ever meet him? Now I got an affirmative answer. These are her words:
Yunoki sensei gave me two advices about my textile works.
The first time was about 20 years ago, in the graduate exhibition of the art university.
He said to me: “The design for papers and fabrics are completely different. But now, almost all designs can’t find this difference. If you continue to make your textile work, you have to make sure of that.”
The second time was also 20 years ago, in the KOKUTEN Competition.
He said to me: “Your textile work seems innocent. The quality and technique are not yet, but I think it’s lovely. I want your textile work to be just as you are.”
I keep these two advices in my heart still now.
To follow are some of Sanae’s chusen-dyed textiles from her Crazy Textiles Studio — full of pure simplicity and charm.
I truly my appreciate my special friendship with Sanae. And now I know another contemporary textile artist, Samiro!
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Sanae is a dyeing artist and part-time lecturer at Joshibi University of Art and Design. She completed her master’s course at the University’s Graduate School of Art and Design in 2006. Besides teaching and leading workshops, Sanae dyes textiles for clothing, parasols, and tenugui at her Crazy Textiles Studio.
In February 2024, Sanae will co-lead a 12-day Kyoto Textile Adventure with Victoria Stone of Okan Arts. +learn more