Yoshiko Iwamota Wada

Yoshiko Iwamota Wada

Born in 1944 in Kobe, Japan, Yoshiko Iwamota Wada is a scholar, curator, educator, and artist specializing in shibori. Wada was introduced to textiles by her grandmothers; her paternal grandmother opened a school focused on Western dressmaking in Japan, and her maternal grandmother was from a family of traditional kimono makers in Tokyo. Despite her early exposure to textiles, Wada’s initial focus was impressionist painting. She turned to traditional Japanese dyeing and weaving while earning her BFA at the Kyoto City Fine Arts University (1967). She then moved to the US, where she completed a MFA in painting, drawing, and conceptual art from the University of Colorado, Boulder (1971). Wada is central to both the contemporary shibori and slow fiber movements, which have gained traction around the world in recent years. She cites the creation of her first book Shibori: The Inventive Art of Japanese Shape Resist Dyeing as a major turning point in her career. During a class at Fiberworks in Berkeley, California, in 1973, Wada introduced her students to a Japanese book of shibori swatches. They requested she compile an English language book on shibori technique, which she ultimately published with co-authors Mary Rice and Jane Barton. Wada has since lectured around the world, curated several textile exhibitions, and consulted with Hollywood costume director Colleen Atwood and contemporary designer Christina Kim of dosa. In 1992, Wada presented the first International Shibori Symposium in Nagoya, Japan, and founded the World Shibori Network. As president of the WSN, Wada frequently leads international tours focused on slow fiber practices around Japan and elsewhere. Though she is known for her expertise on shibori, her current research is focused on two other significant Japanese textile practices: boro, the art of patchworking, and meisen, a popular and inexpensive style of kimono that gained ubiquity in early 20th-century Japan. In honor of her extensive work in the field, Wada was named a 2010 Distinguished Craft Educator by the James Renwick Alliance, and she received the 2016 George Hewitt Myers Award from the Textile Museum and George Washington University. Yoshiko Iwamota Wada was elected an Honorary Fellow of the American Craft Council in 2018.