Hanako O’Leary


Hundreds of origami vulvas highlight Hanako O’Leary’s matriarchal lineage and the intricate facets of feminine love, sexuality, and power.

War Mask 12: The Matriarch (detail), 2023. Ceramic, glaze, luster, and cotton. 30 x 20 x 12 inches. Photo: Jo Cosme
  • July 11 - August 1, 2024
  • Opening: Thursday, July 11, 6:00 — 8:00pm

Closing: Thursday, August 1, 6:00 — 8:00pm

Kamon, meaning “family crest,” is a continuing chapter in Hanako O’Leary’s expansive body of work, “Izanami,” the Shinto goddess of life and death. The series traces the mythology of Izanami, who is believed to have originated in the Setonaikai Islands, where the artist’s mother was born and raised. Inspired by a recent journey to these islands, O’Leary envisions her mother’s homeland as a colossal sleeping goddess nestled in the ocean’s embrace and celebrates the transformation of the female body by feminizing the landscape, in its perpetual cycles of growth and decay.

The exhibition’s centerpiece is composed of hundreds of meticulously folded origami vulvas, which are stitched together in a winding, suspended tapestry. To make the origami, the artist convened several communal gatherings; participants who identify as “daughters” marked their contributions with their mother’s maiden name or birthplace. Kamon also delves into the intercultural and intergenerational dynamics of O’Leary’s heritage. Raised in the American Midwest by her Japanese mother and American father, she spent her summers on an annual pilgrimage to the Seto Inland Sea of Japan, a tradition that profoundly influenced her spiritual and artistic ethos. Drawing on the folk traditions of the Setonaikai Islands, her work bridges past and present by combining handmade objects, installation, and storytelling. This exhibition was supported by a 4Culture Arts Project Grant.

Artist Talk: Saturday, July 27, 11:00 am-12:00 pm
Join us for a free artist talk! No registration is required to attend the talk. Light refreshments will be provided.

Origami Workshop: Saturday, July 27, 12:00-2:00 pm
Following the talk, O’Leary will facilitate an origami workshop intended for those who identify as women or daughters featuring intermediate folding techniques. Please register for the workshop below.


About the Artist

Hanako O’Leary is a craft-based sculptor and installation artist whose work has been exhibited in solo shows at Method Gallery, Edmonds Community College, ARTS at Seattle’s King Street Station, and the Frye Art Museum. She was a recent Neddy Finalist and has received major awards such as the Seattle Office of Arts & Culture CityArtist Grant, Bernie Funk Artist Scholarship, Robert B. McMillen Grant, and an Artist Trust Fellowship, among others.