September 2, 2019 1

Abstract Art Inspired by Japanese Traditions | KQED Arts

Abstract Art Inspired by Japanese Traditions | KQED Arts


As an immigrant, my identity
process in the United States — there is the urge for me
to finish becoming someone but in that process, I realize that I don’t have
to have this fixed identity. I am constantly evolving. Through my art, I am celebrating the idea about
fluidity and biculturalism. I am a visual artist based
in San Francisco Bay Area. I’m a native of Japan and I came to United States when I was 18 years old. I thought I was ready
to do anything I wanted. But I had a really difficult time. I think the language was a
really important aspect of it. I couldn’t communicate myself,
so I couldn’t make friends. I felt really sad and alone. I think that I was traumatized. My first art class in United
States was very important because I felt like I was
accepted by the community. We have a common language,
which is the visual language. So the art making was really
a true communication tool. I’m always fascinated by animal evolutions and metamorphoses, how they have changed and
shift in order to survive. That’s something that
I’ve always connected with in terms of the experiences
that I was going through. My shapeshifter series
is exploring similar themes of cultural
survival and adaptation. But I was very interested
in abstract form and shape. They are different characters and colors. They are boundless. They can travel different realms. Shapeshifters are based on
Japanese Shinto traditions, and the Shinto tradition believes animism. Everything in this universe
has imbued with this spirit. Sometimes they disguise as
human, animals, objects. They’re always more than
one singular entity. They are such a part of our culture. We see them everywhere. When I went to a residency
program in Kamiyama, in Japan, I was able to actually
visit small shrines, climb the mountains. There are so much stories
and histories embedded. And then it gives me the idea
about how I can re-craft the stories based on this
traditional folklore. And how I could actually
reinvent my own identity, just like these shapeshifters do. These traditional cultures and practice, I think this is something that
we can all universally share. When you have less boundaries,
it’s easier to connect. So the fluidity of the shapeshifters, to me it’s always this
signifier or the reminder that we can shift. We can change. Keep yourself open and evolve.

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