“Lethal Beauty: Samurai Weapons and Armor,” the only exhibit of its kind currently touring, will be on view at no charge to the public April 8-June 24 at the Henry Madden Library at California State University, Fresno.

Included in the display from the Clark Center for Japanese Art and Culture in Hanford are 65 objects from private and public collections worldwide that date from the 13th through 20th centuries. Visitors will see suits of armor, helmets, facemasks, swords and sword fittings and matchlock guns.

“Lethal Beauty” is part of the Madden Library’s commitment to help fill a void created within the arts community when the Fresno Metropolitan Museum closed in 2010.

“With the generous donations provided the Madden Library by the Leon S. Peters and Pete P. Peters Foundations, we are committed to stepping into the breach to provide the best possible exhibitions of broad interest to our regional community,” said Peter McDonald, the dean of Library Services at Fresno State.

“This show is particularly relevant because it not only builds on our strong collections on Japanese-American history and recent programs in the library, but also gives us an opportunity to celebrate this amazing culture,” McDonald added. “It is especially poignant that the show will occur in the wake of the recent earthquake and tsunami disasters in Japan.”

The Madden Library also is sponsoring two special evening events in conjunction with “Lethal Beauty,” both free and open to the community:

  • April 14 – Fresno State’s CineCulture Club will screen Oscar-winning filmmaker Akira Kurosawa’s “Throne of Blood” (1957), Shakespeare’s “Macbeth” set in feudal Japan, 6:30 p.m. in the library’s Auditorium Room 2206. Author, filmmaker and historian Kerry Yo Nakagawa will lead the post-screening discussion. His great-grandfather, Senjiro Fukuda, was a general under Lord Asano in 19th century Hiroshima.
  • May 6 – Dr. Andreas Marks, curator of the “Lethal Beauty” exhibition and director of the Clark Center, will speak at 6:30 p.m., following a reception at 6. Marks, a specialist in Japanese prints, has curated exhibitions on Japanese art including ceramics, paintings, weaponry and works of bamboo.

“Lethal Beauty” is partially underwritten in memory of businessman Matsuo Tsuchida by his daughter, Yuko Brumm, a classical piano teacher and potter, and her husband, Fresno State alumnus Jim Brumm, a lawyer and longtime executive with Mitsubishi International Inc.

“There is truly a worldwide fascination with the samurai,” said exhibit curator Marks. “The pieces that make up ‘Lethal Beauty’ tell the story of the history and elegance of the samurai, how they perceived themselves, the manner in which they held themselves and the honor that they took in being warriors.”

“Lethal Beauty” will be displayed in the Leon S. Peters Ellipse Gallery on the Madden Library’s second floor. The library is open 7:45 a.m.-11 p.m. Monday-Thursday, 7:45 a.m.-5 p.m. Friday, 1-5 p.m. Saturday and 2-10 p.m. Sunday. During spring break, hours are 8 a.m.-5 p.m. April 18-22. The library will be closed April 16, 17, 23 and 24 and operates on a more-limited schedule during summer.

The Madden Library’s Special Collection Research Center includes a Japanese-American oral history collection, newspapers and other material produced in World War II internment camps and Japanese-Americans in World War II. George Shitara was honored as the Madden Library’s 2010 Donor of the Year for recognizing the historical value of internment camp newspapers that his family had preserved for more than 60 years and then donating the collection to the library.

The Madden Library also hosted a discussion of the Japanese-American internment experience during the College of Arts and Humanities’ Centennial Celebration in October 2010 and has presented several other community programs about Japanese-Americans.

The Clark Center was founded in 1995 by Elizabeth and Willard G. “Bill” Clark. Its collection includes hundreds of scrolls, sculptures, paintings and screens, and a research library, where scholars of Japanese art can examine 7,000 volumes.

For more information contact Marcie Morrison at marciamo@csufresno.edu or 559.278.7177.

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