“Yoshiko I. Wada is one of the most important teachers in the American fiber art field. She is single-handedly responsible for introducing the art of Japanese shibori to the U.S. Many well-known fiber artists have studied with her, such as Ana Lisa Hedstrom and Lia Cook. Ms. Wada was especially influential in the art-to-wear movement.“(excerpt from James Renwick Alliance announcement of 2010 Distinguished Craft Educators)
Yoshiko was named a “2010 Distinguished Craft Educator – Master of Medium” by the James Renwick Alliance. Twice in her career she was awarded the prestigious Japan Foundation Fellowship (1979 & 1997) wherein the first research yielded the definitive publication, Shibori: The Inventive Art of Japanese Shaped Resist Dyeing (seventeenth printing, 2014), and led to her second shibori publication, Memory on Cloth: shibori now (seventh printing, 2014). Additional grants include: the Indo-US Sub commission for Education and Culture (1983) affiliated with the National Institute of Design, Ahmedabad; the former Matsushita International Foundation (now Konosuke Matsushita Memorial Foundation) (1998) for replication of Pre-Columbian shibori/amarras textiles; and the James Renwick Fellowship (1992) at the Smithsonian Institution.
Past appointments include: “The Kimono Inspiration: Art and Art to Wear in America,” The Textile Museum, Washington, D.C.; “El Arte de Teñir con Amarras,” Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes, Santiago, Chile; “Japanese Design: A Survey since the 1950s,” Philadelphia Museum of Art; several shibori and bandhani exhibitions at the National Institute of Design, India; “Shibori: Tradition and Innovation – East to West” and “Ragged Beauty: Repair and Reuse, Past and Present,” Museum of Craft and Folk Art, San Francisco.
TEACHING & CONSULTANCY
In 2014, sustainable fashion company in Los Angeles, dosa inc included an entry for Yoshiko in their Glossary . Since 2010, Yoshiko is Adjunct Professor at the Institute of Textile and Clothing, Hong Kong Polytechnic University. Since 1992, she has been a lecturer at Okinawa Prefectural University of Fine Arts, and recently a Visiting Scholar at the Center for Japanese Studies, University of California at Berkeley. Her expertise has been sought by department stores, designers and curators to whom she has been a consultant. Clients include Colleen Atwood for the Hollywood film production, “Memoirs of a Geisha,” and Christina Kim for dosa, among others. She served as an advisor for Gunma Prefecture Sericulture Preservation Society and has been an advocate for designing with 100% Japanese silk textile – a rarity in the 21st century Japan. Since 2000, she has been an advisor to Aranya Naturals, a social welfare natural dyeing project in Munnar and to an organic cotton producer, Appachi Cotton in Pollachi, both in India.
A longtime advocate and spearhead of ethical production of textiles and handicrafts, Yoshiko founded the Slow Fiber Studio ™ (est. 2008), which promotes culturally and socially responsible textile-making practices. She is President of the World Shibori Network (est. 1992) and served as co-chair of the recent 9th International Shibori Symposium 2014 (ISS) in Hangzhou, China and 8th ISS in 2011 in Hong Kong, a role she has performed for all previous ISS (Lyon & Paris in France ‘08; Tokyo, Japan ’05; UK ’02; Australia ’04; Chile ’99; India ’96; Nagoya, Japan ’92) and she will co-chair 10th ISS in 2016 in Oaxaca, Mexico. Under the Japan Foundation Fellowship 1979, she established the Meisen Research Society at the Kiryu Orijuku Textile Archive, Kiryu with Mutoh Kazuo, its members include Koichi Arai and Masanao Arai of Gunma Prefecture, Japan. She has served as a Board of Trustees for American Craft Council, Haystack Mountain School of Craft, San Francisco Museum of Craft and Folk Art, Capp Street Project, and she is on Artist Advisory Council for the Fabric Workshop & Museum since 1980s. In 1975, she taught and published in English the first technical instruction on Japanese kasuri weaving, ‘Ikat: An Introduction.”