- August 17, 2017
From the other side of the world
“Though these are but the faces of dolls, I am entranced with their unique expressions, and the secrets and mystery they suggest. It is left to the imagination to flesh out each one more fully and hear her poetry from across the centuries.”
– Pat Brown
Is Now the Dream? Hina-ningyō Portraits + Landscapes, on display in our downstairs gallery from January 17th through May 6th, features the work of Pat Brown, a local Austin photographer, who explores the cultural aesthetic of Japan, both past and present.
Hina-ningyō—hand-crafted Japanese dolls collected by the photographer—represent members of the Japanese imperial courts. The photographer’s work brings out the unique expressiveness in each doll, revealing the human and poetic dimensions of their unchanging and timeless expressions.
The title of the exhibit is taken from a poem written by a woman who served in the court of Empress Tokoku, who lived in the 12th century. Describing the decline of her court and thus her way of life, she writes:
Is now the dream?
or was long ago the dream?
I wander on, lost—
unable to convince myself
that this is reality.
Landscape and architectural photographs of Japan round out the exhibit, suggesting what one might have seen during the Edo period prior to Commodore Perry’s opening of Japan to the West in the 1850s, and thus, at the same time Abner Cook was completing our historic house in a young Austin, Texas.