Artvoice: Buffalo's #1 Newsweekly
Home Blogs Web Features Calendar Listings Artvoice TV Real Estate Classifieds Contact
Previous story: Designing to Live Sustainably at CEPA Gallery
Next story: Liz Rywelski's Exhibition at UB Anderson Gallery

Asian Lacquer Symposium 2013

Lacquer artist Nhat Tran's Experiment in Verification and Falsification.

Buffalo State brings together lacquer experts from around the world

Starting Monday, May 20, Buffalo State College will host an extraordinary weeklong conference and art exhibition: The Asian Lacquer Symposium 2013 is a four-day event that will academics and arists from numerous disciplines to compare notes on lacquer work.

“We’re getting art historians, curators, scholars,” says Patrick Ravines, who is an associate professor and director of Buffalo State’s Art Conservation Department, which is collaborating with the Design Departmwent and th Buchfield Penney Art Center to mount the symposium. “We’re getting the artists, the people who work with the lacquer; we’re getting the scientists who study it to figure out what’s going on; and we have conservators. We’re bringing them all together. Anything that has to do with urushi, or lacquer, is the unifying point for all these different groups.”

The symposium’s keynote speakers include Barbara Brennan Ford, former curator at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and lacquer artisan Kazumi Murose, who is recognized by Japan as a National Living Treasure—one of three such honorees who will make presentations and offer workshops over the course of the week. Attendees are also coming from Germany, Belgium, South Korea, China, and around the US.

The symposium is unlike any previously convened on the subject, according to Sunhwa Kim, a lacquer artist and assistant professor in Buffalo State’s Design Department who was key in organizing the event. She studied traditioncal techniques in Korea and Japan before coming to the US, where she hopes to inspire interest in what she fears is a dying art. Next week’s symposium is an opportunity to achieve that goal. Other conferences on lacquer tend to be parochial, drawing regional experts to discuss very specific techniques and topics. Buffalo State’s symposium is notable for the diversity of its participants—where they come from, their varying acadademic interests, their commitment to traditional or contemporary art. What the scientists know about the composition of lacquer from one location to another is of interest to conservators, for example, as they develop approriate techniques for restoring works. It is equally of interest to art historians, says Corina Rogge, a chemist who teaches in the Art Conservation Department: Identifying regional variances in composition has allowed historians to trace the trade routes along with lacquer work traveled.

“This is really a model for a cross-discipilinary approach to a subject,” Rogge says.

The symposium runs Monday through Friday. Details are available at There will be an exhibit of traditional and nontraditional lacquer art at the Burchfield Penney, including work by some of the visiting speakers. The exhibit runs for one week only, so don’t procrastinate.

blog comments powered by Disqus