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Japanese Art and Aesthetics

  • Hillcrest Center for the Arts Community Room 403 West Hillcrest Drive Thousand Oaks, CA, 91360 United States (map)

CMATO Speaker Series: Meher McArthur


Meher McArthur, an independent Asian art curator, author, and educator specializing in the art of Japan, will explore the various aesthetics co-exist in Japanese culture in a lecture with slides.

An Appreciation of Japanese Art and Aesthetics


When asked to describe Japanese aesthetics or artistic style, many people in the West might think of the simplicity and austerity of a Zen rock garden or a thatched teahouse. Others might picture a beautiful woman in white make-up and a vibrant red and gold kimono. Someone else might imagine a shiny black lacquer box with gold designs of flowers, and a younger person might argue that Japanese style is best represented bymanga cartoons and anime films.

Japan does not have one single artistic style or sensibility. All of the above examples illustrate different Japanese aesthetics that have evolved over the centuries in response to the taste of diverse patrons. The Imperial Court, Zen tea masters, wealthy samurai warriors, merchants, courtesans, and even foreigners have all influenced Japanese style and taste in profound and enduring ways.


Meher McArthur worked for nine years as Curator of East Asian Art at Pacific Asia Museum in Pasadena, where she curated 15 exhibitions and several permanent galleries. Her most recent major exhibitions include Folding Paper: The Infinite Possibilities of Origami (traveling 2012–2016) and Above the Fold: New Expressions in Origami (2015–2017). She lectures regularly at Southern California museums and is Creative Director for the Storrier Stearns Japanese Garden in Pasadena. She is a regular contributor to KCET's Artbound and the Buddhist website, and writes for ArtilleryFabrikOrientations and other arts and culture magazines. She has written several books about Asian art and culture, including Understanding Buddhist Art: A Guide to Buddhist Signs and Symbols (Thames and Hudson, 2002), The Arts of Asia: Materials, Styles, Techniques (Thames and Hudson, 2005), Confucius (a biography, Quercus, 2010), and Folded: Contemporary Expressions of Origami Art, to be published by Tuttle in spring 2017.




Earlier Event: October 16
Artful Angles
Later Event: October 26
CMATO Speaker Series