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Exhibition of Kimono Silk as Pigment at En Gallery

PASADENA — “Mirage: Kimono Silk as Pigment by Sumi Foley” is on view at Storrier Stearns Japanese Garden’s En Gallery through July 29.

Born in Osaka, Foley has been making fabric art for more than 30 years. As a child of 4 or 5 years old, she would often spend the night at her grandmother’s house, where she learned to sew and enjoyed looking at and touching her grandmother’s kimono fabric scraps. Years later, when her grandmother was about to throw away these scraps, she asked her to give her that fabric.

Since then she has been creating her “abandoned fabric” art, using small pieces of antique silk kimono fabric as pigment on canvas. For each work, she lovingly pieces the silk fragments together to form textile mosaics that speak of a reconstructed connection to her homeland and its traditions and to nature. On some, she stitches playful details drawn from Japanese folklore, such as foxes – auspicious creatures who serve as messengers of Inari, god of the rice harvest.

Sumi Foley

Foley says of her art: ”Each piece of old fabric has a beautiful design and color. It’s just like us humans. When used in the right way, its beauty stands out. I love transforming what has been abandoned into something beautiful. I want to do my part in reminding people that we can make a more beautiful human story together when we use imagination creatively. I see my art as a small part in the quest for peace in the human family. It will be my footprint after I am gone.”

All of the works in this exhibition are for sale and a percentage of the proceeds will benefit the garden’s ongoing cultural programming.

About the En Gallery: In Japanese, the word “en” written with one character (園) can mean garden. Written with a different character (縁), “en” can signify the special, and often mysterious, bond that connects people. It also refers to the verandah – a space that exists between inside and outside.

Located in the house looking out on the garden, the gallery features exhibitions of art relating to nature, spirituality, wellness and relationships. The exhibitions spotlight work by artists from all around the world and in a range of diverse styles, and are curated by Meher McArthur, an Asian art historian and creative director of the Storrier Stearns Japanese Garden.

The exhibition may be viewed during the garden’s open hours or you may make an appointment with the curator by emailing

The garden is located at 270 Arlington Dr. in Pasadena and is open to the public Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and the second and last Sunday of each month from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Admission is $7.50 with online reservation, $10 at the gate. Children 12 and under are free. Members receive free admission for two to every open day. For more information, call (626) 399-1721 or visit

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