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Creative Journey

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Seeking the Rhythm of Life

As a multimedia artist who lives and works in the San Francisco Bay Area in California, I am passionate about embracing the history, tradition and the true essence of the art of printmaking while bringing attention to new possibilities beyond the confines of the 2D picture plane. My desire is to convey the mysterious depths of the transcendent truth by entering the studio inside my heart where my personal vision merges with the universal vision.

I was born and raised on the southern tip of the main island of Japan. It occasionally snowed there in the winter. As a child, when I awoke on those cold mornings, I knew the color and light coming through the translucent white paper of the shoji screen implied the unseen snow. I was thrilled to open the screen and see such beauty and joy waiting to be revealed. This anticipation of the unseen world behind a translucent veil became my primal inspiration to search for, as an artist, the realm of mystery underlying all forms.

My printmaking journey began when I saw large woodblock prints at a Tokyo art gallery, after graduating from Tokyo National University of Fine Arts and Music. I was fascinated by the stunning black and white contrast, and by the lively movement created by the vigorous grain of the wood. I started making woodblock prints myself, and was soon experiencing great satisfaction in the immediate dialogue with the natural surface of the wood.

During my graduate years at the San Francisco Art Institute, I came to see the direct and vigorous force of cutting the block as one embodiment of my quest to understand the mystery of life through movement in living things, particularly in human bodies. Movement provides a conduit for channeling the universe’s timeless flow through the body’s dynamic yet transient life energy.

To convey the elusive nature of existence and the vitality of life simultaneously, I began to layer translucent paper printed with images in black ink and silk dyed in brilliant colors. My re-discovery of the beauty of translucent Japanese paper led me to liberate the layered prints from the familiar confines of the frame to the floating forms of large ceiling-hung scrolls or free-standing screens.

As light passes through the panels floating in the air, the elements of the work – inked images, luminous color on silk, wood grain pattern and carving marks – are all dramatically animated. The scroll/screen composes a subtle interplay between space and light, between the 2D image and the 3D swinging form. This veil is a divider of worlds - here and there, reality and dream, yin and yang - as well as a meeting point. It represents my yearning to pierce the veil and glimpse the secret of the universe – just as I longed to discover the unseen world on the other side of the shoji screen as a child.

I am now carrying the theme of the organic movement and rhythm of life into smaller scale prints. Although my recent images are different from the moving bodies of my larger-than-life-size woodblock prints, I approach the process of etching metal or constructing collaged plates with the same excitement I bring to cutting wood. Whatever technique I use, not knowing exactly how a print will come out always provides me with an artistic distance that is enormously freeing. The essence of printmaking lies, perhaps, in this liberating quality of indirectness.

The last fifteen years of my artistic journey have gone side by side with my consciousness study, feeding each other in elaborating the concept of my art. Through the Transformative Arts Program at John F. Kennedy University and Pathways Institute, the modern day mystery school, I have delved into psychological aspects of the art-making process. Many tools for developing spiritual maturity have helped deepen my inward exploration and its relationship to my art - meditation, authentic movement, dream work, active imagination, study of ancient mystery school, myths, religions, alchemy, rituals and archetypes, shadow work.

My artistic career includes teaching visual art, ranging from drawing, watercolor, and printmaking to mixed media. In over 20 years of incredibly inspiring experience as an art educator, I have found great satisfaction in witnessing my students’ development of their personal voices and artistic directions. The creative energy I bring to the classroom is the same as that I release in my own studio. My teaching, art practice and consciousness study are more than a profession – they are a broad and inclusive expression of my creative energies.

In addition to being an artist and art educator, I am an art conservator specializing in restoring Asian scroll/screen paintings. For more information about my professional services with restoration, please visit my website at Asian Painting Restoration.