Pacific Asia Museum opening “Visions of the Orient” Mar 4

Opening: Friday, March 4, 2011

Exhibition: Visions of the Orient: Western Women Artists in Asia 1900-1940

Duration: Through May 29, 2011
Pacific Asia Museum: 46 North Los Robles Ave, Pasadena, CA 91101, (626) 449-2742,

Museum hour: Open Wednesday through Sunday, 10 am – 6 pm.

Admission: General admission $9

PAM Visions of the Orient Bertha Lum Tanabata 1912

Bertha Lum, “Tanabata” 1912, Woodblock print on paper, Pacific Asia Museum Collection. Gift of Evelyn E. Olson.

Visions of the Orient explores the intersection of Euro-American art, the woodblock print movement, women, and East Asia to explore the various ways that “the orient” served as a liberating professional space for women artists and as a place of diverse creative inspiration.

Visions of the Orient focuses on the work of four Western women artists: Helen Hyde (1868-1919), Bertha Lum (1869-1954), Elizabeth Keith (1887-1956), and Lilian Miller (1895-1942), all of whom trained initially as painters but, while living in Japan, also designed woodblock prints.

With the exception of Paul Jacoulet, these Western women artists were the only Euro-American artists of either sex during the pre-WWII era who made their homes in Asia, made Asian subjects their primary thematic focus, and made the East Asian technique of woodblock printing their primary mode of production.

The exhibition features over 125 compelling works that share the theme of Asia, yet these works reveal considerable variation in their interpretation.

In their paintings and prints, the viewers see Asia as a garden inhabited by women and children (Hyde), a land of mystery populated by goddesses (Lum), a living museum of peoples and customs (Keith), and a nurturing poetic landscape (Miller).

This project also looks at the international collaboration between these Western artists and their Japanese teachers and colleagues, including the artisans who produced their work as well as their Japanese publishers and dealers.

The woodblock prints are the direct result of this collaboration, having been executed by Japanese artisans (block cutters and printers).