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Art HERstory: Tamami Shima

'Wild Child' (1961)

As time progresses, less and less of the past is remembered. As life evolves and civilizations rise and fall, more and more history is lost. The works of Tamami Shima (1937-1999) are pretty much all we have left of the Japanese printmaker. There isn’t must about her life or accomplishments, just her woodblock prints. Luckily, we have such great physical remnants of her personality and love for the Asian arts.

Tamami Shima was born in Hirosaki, Aomori Prefecture. She attended the Women’s College of Fine Arts in Tokyo and graduated in 1958. Initially, Tamami’s prints were a local phenomenon, but once she earned a travel grant from the College Women’s Association of Japan in 1962 the whisper about her images spread to the West.

Japanese woodblock printing is the primary technique used in the Ukiyo-e genre of art. The reign of the technique’s use was from the 17th to the 20th century. Ukiyo-e, meaning ‘pictures of the floating world,’ features landscapes, historical tales, the theatre, and nature. Tamami used the art-form to illustrate various species of birds. Her claim to fame was her use of multiple textures in one print.

Image Layout: Phaymiss

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