Evolution: Yoshida and Friends
An Exhibition of Traditional Japanese Woodblock Prints
The works seen in Evolution are not the typical tourist window into Japan, but rather as Eugene Skibbe writes, “The common realities beautiful to the Japanese heart.” The collection before you is an exciting step that will provide a bridge between the St. Olaf community and the Asian art world. This exhibition is part of a generous gift to the college from the recipient of the Distinguished St. Olaf Alumni Award; Eugene Skibbe (‘52) along with his wife Margaret (’53). After graduating from St. Olaf College, Eugene Skibbe attended seminary and completed his Th.D in systematic theology at the University of Heidelberg in Germany. Following Dr. Skibbe’s retirement from his theology professorship at Augsburg College in Minneapolis, his passion for art evolved. In 1990 Eugene Skibbe founded the Twin Cities Japanese Print Club. The Skibbes then provided many prints from their personal collection for the eleven-week Minneapolis Institute of Arts exhibition entitled, “A Japanese Legacy: Four Generations of Yoshida Family Artists” which opened in February of 2002. Evolution is only fifteen of the thirty-eight pieces donated by the Skibbes to St. Olaf.
Although there is a vast range in style and subject matter, all of the pieces seen here are all modern prints, created by 20th century artists, using traditional Japanese woodblock techniques. Prints range from Japanese landscapes to modern abstractions. The wide array is representative of the internal Japanese struggle between tradition and innovation; between the past and the present. All of the pieces here have been created by a member of the storied Yoshida family or someone who has been influenced by them.
In Eugene Skibbe’s book Yoshida Toshi: Nature, Art, and Peace, Skibbe explains,
It has occurred to me that Japanese society is going through rapid disjunctive changes, just as is society in the United States. In such circumstances it is possible that the stories a family has passed down for generations could be lost, if the newest generation does not receive or hand on these key memories. This might happen, not because people reject the past, but because new demands in the present overwhelm them.
The goal of this exhibit, curated by the students of the Spring 2006 Arts of Japan class, is to continue to pass on the legacy of the Yoshida family.
Timothy Oberle, Marit Hagen, and Brooke Peterson
Click the picture above to view the gallery. Click on the prints in the gallery below to view more about them.