Written for The Argo by Charles Obirinanwa
Stockton Institute of Lifelong Learning (SILL) held a course on Friday 11th February 2022 with Professor Kate Ogden as the course instructor. The workshop which was themed “The Impressionists and Japanese Prints” had 14 participants in attendance and was held via Zoom from 10:30a.m to 11:30a.m.
Professor Kate began her lecture by saying that “The earliest Japanese prints from the 1600s were mostly made as woodwork prints” before she began speaking about various 19th and 20th century impressionists that made paintings like the Japanese prints. She explained that Japan was opened to the West by Commodore Matthew Perry in July 1853, when his 4 ships entered Tokyo harbor for the first time in 200 years and the prints began to appear in Europe in the 1860s.
Kate further explained that the Japanese influence on Western art also known as ‘Japonisme’ became popular in the 1850s. Interestingly, a group of artistes named their album cover ‘Japonism,’ after the ‘Japonisme’ theme. The course went into a different direction when Professor Kate began to mention various impressionists like Vincent Van Gogh, Julien Tanguy, Paul Guagin, Edouard Monet, Alfred Stevens, Leon Francois Comerre, William Chase, Alfred Maurer, J. Seward Johnson, Edouard, Mary Casatt among others.
It was fascinating to discover from the lecture that the Grounds for Sculpture in Hamilton, New Jersey replicated the works of one of the impressionists, Monet and even the Vanderbilt mansion in New York has some of Vandebilt’s works too. These facts thrilled the workshop’s participants because it showed how America shares in the history of the Japanese prints. It also sent a strong message of how our dear Garden state and country, America at large, are culturally diverse and include other cultures.
The workshop indeed lived up to its purpose, as the participants, which were mostly older adults, were able to learn about narrative perspectives of life. It was a learning experience for the participants and an excellent way to have coffee.
There is still time to participate in the last two dates of the series, on February 18 and 25, from 10:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.