Let's Talk About Art: 2013 Artist of the Year

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This is a biweekly series about art and artists in the region. Pittsburgh Filmmakers/Pittsburgh Center for the Arts serves the community through arts education, exhibitions and artist resources.

Who says that an artist has to focus on one medium? Akiko Kotani is a fiber artist who paints and draws, weaves and creates installations.

Named the 2013 Artist of the Year by Pittsburgh Center for the Arts in Shadyside, Ms. Kotani decided to explore new mediums for the AOY exhibit -- on view through Nov. 3 -- such as plastic and glass, alongside paper and silk creations.

Included in her exhibit are pieces made from carefully crocheted plastic bags. She was inspired to combine the age-old practice of crocheting with a material that is a relatively recent invention and one that is considered a disposable commodity in our culture. Doing so allows her to take an ordinary object of little value and transform it into a beautiful work of art.

Since the beginning of her career, Ms. Kotani has been creating art that explores line and form and the way in which these elements interact with the space surrounding them. Weaving, crocheting and hand stitching are the techniques present throughout most of her work. Using threads made from silk, wool and bamboo, she "draws" shapes and lines onto large pieces of paper, linen and other material, often layering the translucent fabrics to create an illusion of depth.

A native of Hawaii, she has had many diverse experiences that have influenced her work. She once studied with a Mayan Indian weaver in Guatemala, and she lived for a time in Istanbul, Turkey.

Having taught art classes at Slippery Rock University for more than 20 years, Ms. Kotani now spends much of her time in her studio. Over her career she has displayed her work in more than 230 group shows and 30 solo shows, nationally and internationally.

For more information about Ms. Kotani, visit her website: www.akikokotani.com. For more information about concurrent gallery exhibitions, which also include "Lenka Clayton: Emerging Artist of the Year" and "Master Visual Artists: Preserving the Legacy," visit: www.pittsburgharts.org.



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