Thursday, September 04, 2014

nui project

hand work by Keisuke Nomaguchi (born 1976)  nylon-wool yarn, cotton thread, hand stitch
embroidered ready made shirt by Keisuke Nomaguchi
His stitches cover the surface, and the shirt shrinks by more than half, becoming very thick.
embroidered ready made shirt by Setusko Mori (born 1955).
Her stitches overlap themselves,and she repeats them to achieve dot-like shapes.
detail of above   (cotton shirt, cotton threads, hand stitch)

These images are from the Nui Project books, documents of the embroidery work made at a rehabilitation facility for mentally handicapped people in Kagoshima Japan, Shobu Gakuen.   The Nui Project uses ready-made shirts as a base for embroidery. That the shirts become impossible to wear as they become distorted with embroidery stitches that have no names adds magic.  Or nature.

"The work is composed within the constraints of the extremely narrow scope of the immediate visual field.......Staying within that narrow scope of the field of view, without a plan for the composition as a whole, generates an emergence, an unfolding, that evokes the beauty created by nature."   Shin Fukumori, director of Kobo Shobu

The content in this post is taken from two books, Nui Project and Nui Project 2.  The books were published in commemoration of the exhibition held at the creative growth art center in Oakland California in 2003, Fabulous Fabrics: Made in Japan, Yukiko Koide curator.

The books were recommended to me by Sandra Brownlee and by Karen Thiessen.


  1. So beautiful! The top one is hypnotic and reminds me of barnicles.

  2. I continue to wonder and ask, "Why?" or "How does one see this way?" But mostly, "Why?"...

  3. The beauty of this work is that there is no reason for it. It is not about knowing what is coming next. Rather, it is about not knowing and continuing.

    In his preface to the nui project 2 book, Hideho Tanaka, professor of contemporary art at Musashino University in Japan wrote about a conversation between Andre Malraux and Picasso.

    Picasso spoke about why we fall in love with African art. He said that African sculptures could not be dismissed as folkcraft but were magical things - sculptures created as objects of power in a universe awash with unseen forces.

    Joy in creating.
    Acts of unconditional love.
    What art evokes in us.
    What we may be inspired to discover in the bigger world


  4. Joy in creating is liberation. Great post Judy.

  5. These are stunning. There is something so inspiring about these and reminds me of a relationship with nature in their forms.....

  6. amazing work! thank you for sharing this project!

  7. this is very exciting and deeply disturbing work Judy!

  8. Love the repetitive, random pattern of it all
    (but I often see that in your work too, Judy ;-) !)

  9. Els, I love the repetitive randomness in this work too, and I am trying to allow that to govern my own imagery. It does feel really intuitive and also healing. Like rocking in a chair. Like the ripples on the lake.

  10. Yes, I recognized the incredible work of the Nui Project right away. The whole approach to encouraging the ability in those who are considered "disabled" is very inspiring. Thanks for reminding me.

  11. Anonymous6:34 pm

    Thanks for the post. I didn't know that there was a second Nui project book, I've had the first one for a few years. Are you familiar with Junko Oki'work?

  12. This post brought me on such a journey of wonder and questions. We barely know what patterns exist inside us ...


  13. How strange works. They seem very mysterious. Maybe because of their randomness. Maybe because they use actual clothes...

  14. It will come as no surprise to you that I ordered me a copy of each book before commenting. When I visit Nancy, I always take drawing paper and colorful drawing utensils, of course, and I always take other materials to see if she'd like to switch to another medium. She is content to draw - at least so far. As I'm stitching Nancy's marks, I often wonder what marvelousness she would create should she have the fine motor skills and decide to use them stitching. These are quite evocative, and yes, they resonate deeply because there is no logical reason or use - there is only expressing.


Thank you for taking the time to connect. Much appreciated.xx