Traces of Words coming to MOA

Traces of Words : Art and Calligraphy from Asia is a new exhibit opening May 11th at Museum of Anthropology (MOA).

From Sumerian cuneiform inscriptions and Qu’ranic manuscripts, to Afghan graffiti and digital creations from Japan, Traces of Words: Arts and Calligraphy from Asia honours the special significance that written forms hold across many diverse cultures in Asia.

The multimedia exhibition will examine how artists have reinterpreted written words as visual expressions.  Texts in many styles represent physical traces of time and space, evoking the ephemeral and eternal.

traces of words at MOA
Hisao Yugami, Mikazuki???, Crescent, 2015Sumi ink on gasen paper mounted on wood panel, 14 x 18cm ·3186/4

“All creatures leave traces of themselves as they move through life; but words, whether spoken, written, imagined, or visualized, are traces unique to humans,” explains Dr. Fuyubi Nakamura, MOA Curator, Asia. “Some words disappear, while others remain only in memory or leave physical traces as writing or text. These traces are the theme of the exhibition.  In it we explore the powerful duality that emerges when the written word becomes a medium or canvas.”

The exhibition represents an enormous diversity of calligraphy, painting, digital and mixed media works.  

traces of words at MOA
Leaf from a Qur’an manuscript in Kufic scriptPossibly Iraq, Iran or Syria, 9th centuryVellum and ink, 23.5 x 32.5 cm ·2988/1

Through paper, silk, clay, woodblock and digital projections, Traces of Words invites visitors to experience and sense the works, and gain an appreciation for the cultural significance of Asian writing beyond reading and writing.

Works on display within the Traces of Words exhibition come from across the continent; including Thailand, Afghanistan, Tibet, Japan and more.

Traces of Words: Art and Calligraphy from Asia at MOA runs May 11 to October 9, 2017. Visit for more information on the art and artists in the exhibition.

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