Sarah Brayer

About The Artist

” Painting in Japanese paper “washi,” brings me immediately into the present moment. Washi has existed as an art form in Japan for 1500 years. My task is to find new ways of expression in an age-old tradition. Although many of my paperworks are well-choreographed before I begin, when the washi fibers hit the screen and begin to swirl, I am transported into a meditative state where assumptions are suspended and improvisation begins…that is very liberating!”

Sarah Brayer is American artist based in Kyoto, Japan. She is internationally known for her large-scale, poured washi paperworks and aquatint prints.

Sarah’s art is in the collections of the British Museum, the Sackler Gallery of the Smithsonian and the American Embassy, Tokyo. She was honored in Japan by being the first artist ever, to exhibit her washi paperworks at Byodoin Temple, a World Heritage site dating from the Heian period, as part of Kyoto’s 1200 yr. celebration in 1992. In 2012 Brayer was invited to speak about her unique work in Japanese paper and light at TED in Tokyo.  Sarah was named cover artist for the 2007 CWAJ Contemporary Print Show in Tokyo, Japan, as the first foreign woman in the show’s 55 year history.

Drawn to Japanese art through raku-style ceramics and the aquatints of Mary Cassatt, the Rochester, New York native embarked on printmaking in London in 1978. The following year she received her B.A. in Art cum laude from Connecticut College and within months left on a backpacking journey to Japan. Becoming entranced by Kyoto, she studied Japanese woodblock printing with Toshi Yoshida (1911-1996) the son of artist Hiroshi Yoshida. She had her first exhibition in Kyoto in 1982, and has continued to show in Japan, Hong Kong, USA, and Europe. In 1986 she opened her studio in an old kimono weaving loft in northern Kyoto, near the gate of Daitokuji Zen temple.

Sarah first encountered poured washi paperworks-the technique she soon adopted as her own-during a visit to Dieu Donne paper studio in New York City in 1986. This painterly, and somewhat unpredictable technique seemed a perfect blend of chance and design, led her to search out the ancient Japanese paper center of Imadate, Echizen as the place to make large-scale poured-paper images. She has created her art there continuously since 1986, as the only western artist to do so. She is assisted by a team of master women papermakers who assist her in moving the large screens.

Currently residing in Kyoto, Sarah divides her working time among Kyoto, Imadate, and New York City.


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