Akiko Kotani and Risë Nagin: Group A “Works”

Black on White #1 2004 Akiko Kotani

Black on White #1 2004 Akiko Kotani

One of my New Year’s resolutions is to get out of the studio during the dark and dreary days of winter to see more art. There is so much going on in the region, beginning in our own back yard: the Pittsburgh Center for the Arts. Now through January 17th you can see works by two of our most accomplished members, Akiko Kotani and Risë Nagin, who were selected to participate in “Works,” juried by Todd Keyser.  Group A is a small invitation-only guild which “…provides exhibition opportunities for its members and fosters an active dialogue about visual art concepts and practices.”

Akiko Kotani’s series Black on White is breathtaking in its simplicity.  She uses black silk thread on hand woven white silk canvas to create a bold line that references organic forms yet has a contemporary graphic appeal.  In the first work of this series she creates the feeling of movement by working predominantly with one shape as it appears to replicate itself across the canvas.

Black and White #8 2004 Akiko Kotani

Black on White #8 2004 Akiko Kotani


As the series progresses,  Kotani continues to explore line and shape. In #8, she zooms in on one segment to play with depth and scale, creating the illusion of the form tumbling across the canvas.

Kotani chooses to frame this series behind glass further abstracting the work and providing a barrier that blurs the distinction between the hand-drawn line and the hand-made stitch.


Concinnity, 2013 Rise Nagin

Concinnity, 2013 Risë Nagin


In Concinnity Risë Nagin explores shape and pattern through collage on paper. She manipulates the background by using an accordion fold format which creates depth and sparks conversation across facets. The design elements seem to dance across the surface and suggest an urban vibe as the translucence of the paper allows light to pass through, creating new patterns and shadows.

Modus, 2013 Rise Nagin

Modus, 2013 Risë Nagin

In Modus, Nagin moves from light to dark. Her choice of color and materials again creates the feeling of movement, but it is how she plays with shape that fascinates and results in a perfect balance between the elements as they leap from fold to fold. In this piece she incorporates opaque materials and fabric which ground some of the folds and creates questions in others.


So now that the holidays are winding down maybe it’s time to treat yourself to some art and, while you’re there, perhaps some shopping too. Many of our members have work for sale in the Annual Christmas Sale, first floor of the Pittsburgh Center for the Arts.

Group A “Works” Susan Constanse, Scott Hunter, Kristen Letts Kovak, Akiko Kotani, Rise Nagin, Garick Tai-Lee, Scott Turri, Sharon Wilson Wilcox at the Pittsburgh Center for the Arts through Janaury 17, 2016

For more on Akiko Kotani’s artistic process:

For more on Risë Nagin’s artistic process: