Nhat Tran's Urushi Process Lasts 1,000 Years

INDIANA---Throughout history, Urushi (the Japanese name for lacquer) has been used in a wide variety of ways including in religious items. The oldest lacquer artifacts found so far in Japanese tombs are 6,000 years old, while in Vietnamese tombs archaeologists have found many lacquered objects dating back to the fourth century B.C. Urushi is a viscous fluid organic material that comes from the milky sap of several varieties of an Asian tree belonging to the Anacardiacea family. Nhat Tran (b. Vietnam) of Indianapolis is one of the few artists today who have undertaken the long and demanding process of urushi painting. "Urushi products can last hundreds of years while retaining their glossiness, smoothness and elegance," writes Tran. "Their colors do not fade with the impact of light and time, and amazingly, as the years go by and the pieces age, their colors keep getting deeper and become more luminous." On November 7, the artist will unveil her new urushi-lacquered wood project at her studio in Indianapolis.