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