Toriawase: A Special Installation of Modern Japanese Art and Ceramics

January 31, 2020 - July 26, 2020

Ceramic vessel

Toriawase is a Japanese concept that loosely means to choose and combine objects with exquisite care. This special installation approaches the combination of modern art and ceramics in this spirit, aiming less for a historical or scholarly approach and more for an intuitive, experiential orchestration of relationships and correspondences. Modern and contemporary Japanese painting and sculpture are not often displayed or considered alongside ceramics of the same period. The exhibition draws on the Ackland’s holdings, as well as three major private collections: James Keith Brown ’84 and Eric Diefenbach, Mina Levin and Ronald Schwarz, and Carol and Jeffrey Horvitz.

This special installation has been organized by Peter Nisbet, Deputy Director for Curatorial Affairs, and Nathan Marzen, Head of Exhibition Design and Installation, with the assistance of Dr. Daniele Lauro, a recent graduate from the PhD program in the History Department at UNC-Chapel Hill and 2019 Richard Bland Fellow at the Ackland Art Museum.


Digital Exhibition Materials

Because of the Museum’s temporary closure, we have extended this exhibition through July 26, 2020. Until the Ackland reopens to the public, we are pleased to share a number of online features that can help give a sense of the show.

  • For simple 360 degree video views of the exhibition, click here.
  • For the text of the exhibition introduction and the commentaries on the forty works of art in the show, with illustrations, click here.
  • For photographs of the installation, scroll to the bottom of this page or click here.



Click here to read the press release.
Click here to see promotional images and credits.
Click here for a video playlist featuring Dr. Daniele Lauro.
Click on the arrow below to listen to the radio commercial.

Come to the Ackland Art Museum to see “Toriawase: A Special Installation of Japanese Art and Ceramics,” featuring modern and contemporary Japanese painting, sculpture, and ceramics. Open from January 31st through April 11th at the Ackland Art Museum, located at 101 South Columbia Street in downtown Chapel Hill. Admission to the Ackland is always free. The Ackland: Look Close, Think Far.


Guided Tours

Guided Tours of Toriawase: A Special Installation of Modern Japanese Art and Ceramics and Yayoi Kusama: Open the Shape Called LoveFree; no registration required.

Select Weekdays | 1:30 p.m.

February 5, Feb 14, Feb 20, Feb 26, 2020

March 5, Mar 13*, Mar 18*, Mar 26*

April 3*, 8*, 9*, 10*


Kids and Families

Family and Friends Sunday*
March 22, 2020 | 2 – 5 p.m.

Inspired by Toriawase: A Special Installation of Modern Japanese Art and Ceramics and Yayoi Kusama: Open the Shape Called Love, choreographer Killian Manning has planned an interactive afternoon of site-specific, art-inspired dance in the galleries. Visitors of all ages will be invited to join dancers in movement and dance in response to the art on view.

Art Adventures
Select Saturdays | 10:30 a.m., 1:00 p.m., 3:00 p.m.
Hands-on art-making classes for 6-9 year-olds; register at

Saturday, February 8, 2020
Kusama-Inspired Tote Bags

Saturday, March 14, 2020*
Toriawase-Inspired Mobiles


Ackland Film Forum

The Patterned Screen: Rhythm and Repetition in Contemporary Asian Cinema
Co-sponsored by the UNC-Chapel Hill Department of English and Comparative Literature

Screenings held at Varsity Theatre | 7 p.m. unless otherwise noted*
Tickets $7 per person; free with UNC One Card

Monday, February 3, 2020
(Dir. Kon Satoshi, 2006, Japan)

Tuesday, February 4, 2020 | *Ackland Art Museum | 5:30 p.m.
Ackland Film Forum Talk: “Intermedial Feeling: How Kon Satoshi Animates the Self”
Thomas Lamarre (Middle Eastern and Asian Studies, Duke University)

Tuesday, February 18, 2020
(Dir. Bong Joon-ho, 2009, South Korea)

Monday, March 16, 2020*
The Grandmaster
(Dir. Wong Kar-wai, 2013, Hong Kong)

Tuesday, March 24, 2020*
Ash is Purest White (Dir. Zhangke Jia, 2018, China)


*These Toriawase-inspired public programs were canceled due to COVID-19 Museum closures.

Image credit: Akiyama Yō, Japanese, born 1953, Untitled, MV-155, 2015, unglazed stoneware with silver coating, 9 5/8 x 22 3/8 x 15 inches. Carol and Jeffrey Horvitz Collection.