ALLENTOWN, Pa. - It's an exciting time at the Allentown Art Museum.

Washi Transformed, New Expressions in Japanese Paper is just days away from opening. So the staff is very carefully unboxing and installing 30 pieces from nine very different artists.

But what exactly is Washi?

"Washi has been made in Japan for over 1000 years and used for arts like calligraphy and printmaking, and these artists are taking it in new directions," said Curator Claire McRee.

The exhibit is an explosion of color, texture, and swooping lines. That will leave you to wonder - how did they do that?

McRee says Washi fibers are made from mulberry bark, perfect for creations like one called Land of Nest.

"And you know it really has these boundaries between geometry, but also has a sense of something more organic and like you would find in nature," McRee said.

While the contemporary aspect of the exhibit grabs the eye, it's the subtle nods to time and tradition that may surprise you, like the work of Yuko Kimura.

"She selects worm-eaten pages from historic documents, historic books like an astronomy manual for example, and you know really celebrates the lacy and delicate textures that they have," McRee said.

When we visited, only a handful of the exhibits were assembled.

The staff says this is the fun part, carefully playing their part in creating an exhibit that will wow a curious crowd.

The exhibit opens Oct. 10 and runs through Jan. 2.

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