Monday, November 17, 2008

Sky Viewing Tapestry (in progress)

Artist Statement

I have a new shortened artist statement. I had the help of various friends and family to get it down to a coherent statement. Thanks to Ashraf Zahedi, my dad and to Scott Perry for their patience in viewing numerous drafts and for lending their writing skills to my edits.

My works are sculptural compilations that mix the precious with the mundane to reveal the beauty and value in the seemingly valueless. The pieces playfully pay homage to my immigrant Japanese Hawaiian ancestors’ humble lives on sugar plantations and bring to light the cascade of cultures they experienced through sharing food, clothing, and myths. Life stories and dreams are revived by weaving their disposable cultural artifacts into sculptural narratives that celebrate their tradition of recycling and reuse. Through my sculptures, I give visual form to their experiences, uncover their memories, and pay respect to their creativity that was born from necessity.

Festival Hats Tapestry (in progress)

My family helps me unwrap some crack seed wrappers for my tapestries. Later, they will help me eat them, too. Most of my wrappers come in the mail from family in Hawaii. The produce netting I use come from friends and family all over. My dad picks up old rice bags in Hawaii when he comes across them and I have friends who bring back flour bags from the Philippines.

(In progress piece above)

This piece pays homage to the issei (first generation immigrant) Japanese sugar plantation workers of Hawaii. The background pattern is abstracted from plantation work clothes worn by women. I find it inspiring that despite the harsh conditions and their being impersonally identified by a numbered brass disc (bango), the women had the creative energy to express their individual style. On many plantations distinct work clothes emerged: unique hat styles, vairations on sashes, variations on aprons and leggings. The types of fabric used showed a blending of the West and East and a mixing of ideas from other cultures on the plantations.

Sketch of completed piece.

Hats formed over trash can lid.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Art in Embassies Program, Brussels/NATO exhibit

A few weeks ago I found out that I was selected to be in The US State Department's Art in Embassies program. One of my pieces was selected to be in a show about "Plurality" in the Brussel's U.S. NATO embassy. It is a two year show and it will be my first work that will be included in a show catalog.

The piece selected for the exhibition is a sculptural shoe. I originally designed it as an entry in the Fuller Craft Museum show "a Perfect Fit". I intended to create a whole series of superwomen inspired shoes. As of yet, I have only completed this "Poison Ivy Pump". This piece is made of wire, Chinese crack seed wrappers, Japanese candy boxes, Russian chocolate wrappers, Japanese plastic sushi garnishes and pearls. It is coated in a two part epoxy glaze.

Photo: Gerorge R. Young

Shoes are symbols of mobility and immobility depending on their functionality and design, and can be symbols of status and gender. Constructed of Asian food wrappers, my sculptural shoes reflect on the intersection of cultures through food and clothing. They also play with the class association of shoes, for while they appear to be the heels of high society, they are a collage of humble materials that would find reuse and utility in the plantation culture of Hawaii's past

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Photo Shoot of three tapestries

Today George Young photographed a few more of the completed tapestries. Below are the images. Each has elements that come off as hats or hair ornaments.

This piece above, Butterfly Papa Hu, is inspired by a Japanese print in the de Young Museum textile collection as well as by the Chinese and Japanese fireworks of my childhood memories. My Dad called these fireworks by the Hawaiian pidgin name, "Papa Hu". My favorite were the fireworks that reminded me of exploding flowers. I tried to capture that exploding flower imagery here. The paper butterflies behind the brown netting are all recycled bit of postcards and print material from the de Young Museums recycling bins. The brown netting is recycled netting donated by Walker Bag of San Francisco before they moved to their new warehouse location.

This piece above, Fortune, is inspired by the intersection of histories of Japanese American families, the Japaense Tea Garden of Golden Gate Park and the creation of the Fortune cookie.
The below piece is inspired by silk riots in London and by a tapestry in the de Young Museum collection. The silk strips in the back represent the slashing of imported silks by frustrated textile workers and blade shapes are echoed in the form of the silk fragments. I have earlier postings on all these pieces.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Photo Shoot of Hats from tapestries

Last Friday I had a photo shoot of a few of the hats that come off of the tapestries. Stacie Tamaki was my lovely model. Armando Sarabia created the amazing hair style and make up. George R. Young was my fantastic photographer. The below two images are of a Ginkgo Leaf hat that come off of the Ginkgo Tapestry.

The below Hat comes off of the "Ties that Bind Tapestry"

Monday, October 13, 2008

Refining Elements

Today I am adding the final touches to two of the four tapestries I have completed. Cole and Emily have been my little assistants in prepping some of the materials. Here they are cutting the produce netting to add to the tips of the blue wire flower stamens.

I like the way the flowers look with the red produce netting at the ends. It reminds me of exploding papa hu ... old pidgen term for fireworks in Hawaii.

Below are the fortune cookie fortunes for one of the tapestries.

Below are the recreations of Japanese Internment Id tags. Names are of family friends in Hawaii who were sent to internment as well as the family names of the Japanese American manufactures of the original fortune cookies in San Francisco.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Butterfly Tapestry

Here are in progress images of my butterfly tapestry. There are two hair ornaments that come off of this one. The center of the wire flowers are mini shoyu bottle caps. The paper butterflies are recycled postcard and print materials from the de Young Museum. The butterfly pattern is inspired by a Japanese textile in their online image collection.

Cardboard sketch and the beginning of wire work.

Mesh being added. This mesh is remnant mesh from Walker Bag of San Francisco

Below, one of two large hair ornaments that come off of the tapestry.

Saturday, September 27, 2008


Here is the beginnings of my third tapestry. It is inspired by the personal family history, San Francisco history and the grounds of the museum. A large abstracted element of the curl in this park bench in front of the museum anchors the composition. It is covered in an old family rice bag. Other graphic elements are two large flower hats inspired by the bridal butterfly tie obi in this family photo below. I will also be dangling fortune cookie message strips and recreations of Japanese internment id tags. The fortune cookie was introduced to the U.S. by Makoto Hagiwara, a gardener of the Japanese Tea Garden next to the de Young Museum. He and his family were sent to internment camps during WWII along with the other Japanese American families running the fortune cookie businesses of San Francisco. On the interment tags I will be placing their family names as well as the names of personal family friends interned from Hawaii.

On the fortune cookie strips I will have two messages:

All Japanese persons, both alien and non-alien, will be evacuated from the above designated area by 12:00 o'clock noon Tuesday, April 7, 1942.

Pack your bags. You will be going on an adventure.

The obi and barbed wire elements on the background grid both allude to different forces binding the internment community together: family and fences.

Bench in front of de Young Museum

Family photo

Digital sketch below

In progress image.

I may add more to the flower hats later. I will add the stamen elements and small shoyu bottle cap to the tips.
Brownish red sheer organza is overlayed on top of the rice bag layer.
Next I have started to create the flower elements.

Here is the piece with an old rice bag covering the waste canvas. This Botan rice bag is from my grandma's collection in Hawaii. These rice bags were used to make underwear, aprons and quilt backings.

Spitalfields inspired tapestry continued

I am completing this tapestry now. Here is the completed piece, minus the huge hats. I am still deciding if I will make these. The small blue flowers come off and attach to a hat frame. There as torn sheets of silk attached to the back of the tapestry which is difficult to see here with my muslin background. I hope to get a professional shot of this soon. This piece is not a warped as it appears here.

Here you can see bits of recycled papers: brochures from the de Young Museum (images of French paintings) and Irish tea bags.

Glazing with a new glaze, a two part epoxy mix.

Small flowers attached to hat.
You can see fragments of de Young admission tickets and English tea bags.

Back view of hat.