Meher McArthur

Originally from the UK, Meher McArthur is a freelance Asian art historian, author and educator based in Los Angeles. Her current exhibition Folding Paper: The Infinite Possibilities of Origami is touring the US until the end of 2016. She worked for many years as Curator of East Asian Art at Pacific Asia Museum in Pasadena, and has collaborated with several Southern California museums and advised for the Victoria and Albert Museum in London. Her books include Reading Buddhist Art: An Illustrated Guide to Buddhist Signs and Symbols (Thames & Hudson, 2002), The Arts of Asia: Materials, Techniques, Styles (Thames & Hudson, 2005),Confucius: A Throneless King (Pegasus Books, 2011), and An ABC of What Art Can Be (The Getty Museum, 2010) for kids. She has also written for The V&A Magazine, The Royal Academy Magazine and Fabrik.

Updated December 2012 

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Collaging Cultural Identity in the Fabric Art of Sumi Foley

When Claremont-based fabric artist Sumi Foley was a child growing up in Osaka, Japan, she often spent the night at her grandmother’s house. Her Obā-san would bring out scraps of old kimono fabric and young Sumi enjoyed touching the silky cloth fragments and admiring their exquisite patterns. She soon learned from her grandmother how to sew and developed a love for this art form. Years later, when she was in her twenties, she stopped by her grandmother’s in time to catch her preparing to throw out piles of old kimonos in a plastic bag. She asked to have ...

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Nikkei Chronicles #2: Nikkei+ ~ Stories of Mixed Language, Traditions, Generations & Race ~

Ted Tokio Tanaka: Meeting Architectural Challenges with a Global Vision

One of the first sights a visitor to Los Angeles will see are the giant glowing pillars arranged around the city’s international airport. Eleven glass columns approach the airport along Century Blvd, ascending in height from 25 to 100 feet to mimic an airplane lifting into the sky. Fifteen more 100-foot shimmering colored pillars encircle the airport—an “electronic Stonehenge” that hints at the glitz and glamour to be found within the city.

With Project Gateway LAX, Japanese-born architect Ted Tokio Tanaka, aware that Los Angeles had very few architectural landmarks other than the Hollywood sign, sought to create ...

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Floral Fusion: The Ikebana Sculptures of Shizuko Greenblatt

In Japan, flower-arranging, known as ikebana or “living flowers,” is one of the most refined and spiritual of art forms. With its roots in the ritual offerings of flowers to the Buddha, ikebana is not merely an attractive natural decoration. A successful arrangement can capture the spiritual harmony of Heaven, Earth, and humanity. By selecting particular flowers to represent the current season and occasion and arranging them in a well balanced form, an ikebana practitioner can transform an interior space into a place of reflection and spiritual awakening.

Los Angeles-based artist Shizuko Greenblatt trained in this art form for many ...

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Serpentine 2013: L.A. Artists Celebrate the Year of the Snake

Snakes get a bad rap in the West. In Christianity, the snake symbolizes temptation and the fall from grace, and in Greek mythology, the most famous snakes are the ones growing from the evil gorgon Medusa’s head. Widely viewed in the West as slippery, sneaky and deadly creatures, they are denigrated rather than celebrated. In Asia, they enjoy much more respect. In India, because they shed their skin as they grow, snakes—or naga—represent rebirth and are worshipped by Hindus as divine beings. In the Buddhist tradition, a snake king is believed to have protected the Buddha from ...

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Two Urban Subcultures Meet in the Art of Gajin Fujita

Five Japanese courtesans, their kimono sliding unashamedly off their shoulders in the heat, look on in alarm at their companion who has collapsed on the floor. Beside them are stone and paper lanterns and at the far left, the Downtown Los Angeles skyline looms amidst fiery red graffiti that almost entirely covers the lavish gold ground of the 12-panel screen. The fallen courtesan finds some support from a wall of Gothic letters forming the words “Red Light.”

This iconic painting Red Light District (2005) graphically merges the subcultures of two vibrant cities—the licensed pleasure quarters of pre-modern Tokyo (then ...

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