Textile Society of America


Date of this Version



Published in The Social Fabric: Deep Local to Pan Global; Proceedings of the Textile Society of America 16th Biennial Symposium. Presented at Vancouver, BC, Canada; September 19 – 23, 2018. https://digitalcommons.unl.edu/tsaconf/

doi 10.32873/unl.dc.tsasp.0058


Copyright © 2018 by the author or authors.


Deeply anchored in her practice of shaping and manipulating fibre are both the aesthetic integral to Yvonne Wakabayashi’s Japanese heritage and the inspiration of the natural environment she finds along the shores of her own birth place, Canada’s west coast. Wakabayashi’s journey to find her authentic voice in her varied textile works, engaged both historical craft practices of Japan and printmaking processes of the West. Most importantly, it led to the discovery of shibori with its ancestral links and innovative contemporary possibilities. This paper explores how an individual artist embraces her artistic cultural identity that also negotiates the upheaval wrought on her parents’ generation as she creates art that honours her ancestry. The creative origins of Wakabayashi’s textiles spring from a childhood imbued with her mother’s traditional skills including fine dressmaking acquired in her native Japan, skills that took on a new significance during years of dislocation. The Japanese family of a young Yvonne was interned by the state away from the coast of British Columbia during the Second World War. During the upheaval that saw professional jobs lost, it was the skills of her mother that secured them financially, modelled adaptability, and shaped her daughter’s interests. A second profound influence on the developing artist was Hiroyuki Shindo. On a sojourn to Japan as a young teacher, Yvonne Wakabayashi took a workshop with the Indigo Master and contemporary shibori artist and found a key medium in which to express herself in cloth. As a foremost textile artist in Canada, the sculptures, narrative wall hangings and fashion pieces of Yvonne Wakabayashi meld methods and materials from two diverse cultures and reach a global audience. In their interplay of ancestry and local inspiration, the artist manipulates the unique threads of her culture.