When Commodore Matthew Perry led the U.S. Navy into Japan in 1854, forcing the island nation to open its ports to the outside world, little did he realize his actions would lead to the swift rise of a brutal empire. Japan soon transformed into an industrialized power unafraid to use war to expand its sphere of influence. At the Frost Art Museum, Rise of an Empire: Scenes of the Sino-Japanese War of 1894-1895 features 20 woodblock print triptychs depicting the first major conflict following Japans westernization and muscle-flexing. Created by important artists of the time, these images were used mostly as propaganda to remind the world of the Empire of the Rising Suns arrival on the superpower stage. On view are Japans smartly uniformed Imperial Guard defeating rag-tag Chinese forces in the battle to control Korea. Also on display is Tribute to Japanese Splendor: The Art of the Temari, showcasing a type of ancient folk art reinterpreted by artist Sharon Thieman. She has created a stunning series of thread balls once used to keep children entertained in their gardens while feudal lords rampaged outside their homes in the countryside. Today the Temari tradition endures as a cherished gift by those who collect them, and Thiemans mesmerizing balls are imbued with dizzying patterns and a modern sensibility.
Tuesdays-Saturdays, 10 a.m.; Sundays, noon. Starts: June 8. Continues through Aug. 14, 2011