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Forest of Dreams: Ainu and Native American Woodcarving

UKOUKU, by artist Toru Kaizawa / Photo by Tetsuya Iwasaki with courtesy of Nibutani Folk Handicraft Association
Statue of Fusa Sugimura, by Takeki Fujito
Statue of Fusa Sugimura, by Takeki Fujito / Photo by Keiji Tsuyuguchi with courtesy of The Foundation for Ainu Culture

Forest of Dreams: Ainu and Native American Woodcarving–the third exhibition in Portland Japanese Garden’s Year of Hokkaido–brings together the artistry and traditions of indigenous peoples of Japan and the Pacific Northwest to celebrate the 60th Anniversary of the Portland and Sapporo sister-city association.

Photo by Jonathan Ley

Wood carvings in the form of “Power Boards” and handcrafted objects for use in daily life honor the cultural and artistic contributions made by the Ainu people of Hokkaido and the Tribes of the Columbia River Basin. Both native cultures have deep traditions of respect for nature—learning from and living as one with the natural world—celebrating the bounty of the forests that provided them with everything they needed to live in ancient times.

Photo by Tetsuya Iwasaki with courtesy of Nibutani Folk Handicraft Association

Carved Power Boards from both cultures will be erected on the Garden Overlook, and a wide range of wood carvings will be displayed in the Tanabe and Pavilion Galleries. This exhibition (co-curated by Sachiko Matsuyama and Deana Dartt, PhD) of woodcarving from both sides of the Pacific revisits the Garden’s 2008 Parallel Worlds exhibition, which compared the ceremonial robes and textile arts of both Ainu and Native American cultures in a first-of-its-kind exhibition.

This exhibition is sponsored by NW Natural; the Confederated Tribes of Siletz Indians; Don Vallaster, Corinne Oishi, and Lindley Morton.