Boro Textiles: Sustainable Aesthetics

6 Mar 2020 – 14 Jun 2020

Regular hours

12:00 – 19:00
12:00 – 19:00
12:00 – 19:00
12:00 – 19:00
11:00 – 17:00
11:00 – 17:00

Cost of entry

Admission $12; students & seniors $10. Free admission for members, children under 16. Free Friday nights, 6-9 pm.

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Japan Society Gallery

New York
New York, United States


Travel Information

  • M15 to 47th Street, M101 or M102 north on Third Avenue to 47th Street, or crosstown M50 (on weekdays) or M42
  • 4,5,6,7 and S at Grand Central Station; 6 at 51st Street and Lexington Avenue; and the E, M at Lexington Avenue and 53rd Street. Public parking available nearby.
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Event map

Japanese folk textiles made for survival and the impact of this philosophy and ethics on contemporary creative practices.


Boro (“rags” or “tatters”) are patchwork textiles hand-pieced by peasants in Japan in the 19th and early 20th centuries. The inability to cultivate cotton in the northern climate of Tohoku necessitated the practice of stitching remnants of used fabric into utilitarian items, including blankets, coats and mittens. These hard-used garments – reworked over generations – express essential principles of Japanese ethics and aesthetics, such as an appreciation for distinguished imperfections and the avoidance of waste.

For the first time in the U.S., this exhibition assembles over 50 archival pieces from the personal collection of folklorist and cultural anthropologist Chuzaburo Tanaka (1933–2016) presented alongside new portraits by editor-photographer Kyoichi Tsuzuki, designs by pioneers of Japanese avant-garde fashion Rei Kawakubo, Issey Miyake, Yohji Yamamoto, and textile-based works by Susan Cianciolo and Christina Kim – part of a generation of contemporary artists influenced by the aesthetics and ethics of mending, patchwork, and re-use. The installation, designed by New York architecture firm SO–IL, rediscovers this traditional handicraft, its history of survival and ingenuity, and its continued legacy within creative practices today.

This program is part of the Passing the Torch series.

Gallery Hours Tues.-Thurs. 12-7 pm, Fri. 12-9 pm, Sat. & Sun. 11 am-5 pm. Closed Mondays and major holidays.

Docent-led tours: Fri.-Sat. at 2:30 pm. Japanese language tours Fri. at 6 pm. Tours are free with admission and approximately one hour in duration. To arrange private group tours, please call (212) 715-1283. Two weeks advance request recommended.

What to expect? Toggle

Exhibiting artistsToggle

Susan Cianciolo

Christina Kim

Kyoichi Tsuzuki


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