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Asian art expert holds workshops and galleries

Although many college students may have outgrown puppet shows long ago, this month they will have the chance to revisit the childhood pastime.  

Friday, artist Sha Sha Higby will begin a stay as a visiting artist with the Ohio University School of Theater, bringing with her a display for the Kennedy Museum of Art.

Higby, a costume and mask artist, started out making dolls and sculptures. After graduating from Skidmore College, she spent the year 1971 in Japan and observed mask making. After that, she traveled around Asia earning art fellowships and studying dance, theater and puppetry, and eventually began making costume art pieces.

“I can’t help myself; there are so many techniques,” Higby said.

Higby’s art is mainly composed of wire, silk and metal and is then painted by hand. Each piece takes around two years to create and is often used in her puppetry performances.

Higby’s works are unlike many found in North America, said David Russel, head of scenic design in the School of Theater.

“She is based in a lot of Asian culture,” Russell said. “There is great craftsmanship in them. What’s unlike most shows out there, there are sounds and lights in her performance, but no spoken word. It’s all about the beauty of the movement and the costume.”

Russell found Higby’s work in the 1980s and began following her website. When he saw her work in California, Russell asked her to come to Ohio University.

The newest collection of pieces Higby has created, titled “In Folds of Gold”, is a collection of work Higby has made, combining art pieces that she has created from 1975 to today. The exhibit, which will be unveiled in Athens on Friday, is one of two collections Higby has on display throughout the country, the other in California.

“I draw inspiration from everything in my daily life,” Higby said. “I like to learn new techniques and make it sing.”

The collection, which will be on display at the Kennedy Museum of Art, contains costumes from a show that will also be performed at OU with the same name. “In Folds of Gold” is a journey of life, death and rebirth through images that represent the passage of time and the changing of seasons, according to a press release.

Higby is also teaching several workshops during her stay at OU that involve mask and lantern making. She will be showing the students her different techniques using lacquer and wire that they will then illuminate.

“I love to see students’ fresh ideas and I like to see them grow,” Higby said. “I like to see how good they are at sculpting. It’s new life, fresh.”




What: Sha Sha Higby: In Folds of Gold

When: April 20-August 12

Where: Kennedy Museum of Art

Admission: Free


What: Artist Lecture: Moving Archetypal Image: The Work of Sha Sha Higby

When: 8–9:30 p.m. Monday

Where: Forum Theater, Radio Television Building

Admission: Free


What: Artist Performance: Sha Sha Higby's In Folds of Gold

When: 8-9:45 p.m. Tuesday

Where: Forum Theater, Radio Television Building

Admission: Free


What: Sha Sha Higby: Moving Archetypal Image/ Wire Forms in Light

When: 5:10-9:00 p.m. Wednesday and 5:10-7:30 p.m. Thursday

Where: Christine Demler Brown Center for Arts, second floor, Kennedy Museum of Art, The Ridges

Admission: Free to OU students, $20 for public


What: Artist Workshop Presentation Sha Sha Higby: Moving Archetypal Image/Wire Forms in Light

When: 7:30-8:00 p.m. Thursday

Where: Kennedy Museum of Art, The Ridges

Admission: Free


What: Sha Sha Higby Costumes and Drawings Display Opening Reception

When: 8-9:30 p.m. Friday

Where: Kennedy Museum of Art, The Ridges

Admission: Free

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