Tuesday, May 24, 2011

A fine line

I finally had the chance to get by the Mississippi Museum of Art today for their current exhibit - The Orient Expressed. The exhibit explores the cultural phenomenon known as Japonisme through more than 200 pieces from throughout France, Belgium and the United States. The collection will be on display through July 17, so you still have time to catch it!

As for myself, I enjoyed the exhibit very much. There were several pieces that particularly caught my eye. Coastline of the Orient was like a tiny, perfect window onto a seaside landscape. So delicate and fine. Fusiyama from the Foot of the Hakani Mountains, a photograph, almost looked like a fantasy image. The mountain is ephemeral, wrapped in fog, looking like a voluminous ghost. The Rice of Plenty reminded me of something out of a fairy tale book - three women walking, viewed almost as if through a keyhole. I thought it was enchanting.

And some of the images of women - tending children, washing, sealing letters - were striking in their universality. Baby Talk, which showed an Asian woman cooing to her newborn, captured the essentially human way we interact with our children. The child was cradled close, and as the mother cooed to her little one, her chin jutted up and out a bit and a smile lifted the corners of her mouth. I remember having the exact same posture and expression when I "discussed" things with my tiny bundle!

Some of the pottery, glass and china on display is amazing. The large lobster platter they have, tilted impressively so you really can appreciate it, is striking in its coloring. (And it doesn't hurt, I suppose, that I can imagine eating lobster right off it! Hee! Probably not the thought the museum had in mind!) There was a crackled glass two-handled vase that completely won me over. It's a large-to-medium-sized piece, and the clear, textured glass is tinted the palest amber. The design features underwater plants and fish, and the almost tactile quality of the glass really does complete the illusion that the fish are swimming through water. Breathtaking. I think, of all the pieces on display, it was my favorite.

If you haven't been by the museum for this exhibit, I encourage you to make a little time to appreciate it! Plus, the companion items they have for sale in the museum gift shop are amazing. Everything from elaborate kimonos to tiny dolls to interesting books and paper goods.

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