Artist Interview: Yuko Kamei

Yuko Kamei, a long-time Art-Byte Critique member, is a photographer based in Tokyo. In this interview, Yuko talks about how her other forms of artistic expression inform her creative and photographic practice and the personal nature of her work for In the Details. You can read more about Yuko on her bio page.

Explain your work in up to 40 words.
My works stem from inquiries on having a material body and thinking at the same time. The beginning of my artistic journey was in contemporary dance, especially Contact Improvisation, which its founder Steve Paxton describes as “dancing about physics”.

Could you talk about your creative process for responding to the theme of In The Details? Did your idea come to you right away? Did you have to experiment a lot?
Rock surfaces are the first thing that came up in my mind for “In The Details”, but initially I wasn’t clear about exactly where my ideas were at or how to make an exhibition around them. It took a couple months to create and select an initial set of works, and feedback from fellow artists at our regular ABC meetings aided me in deciding which ones to include.

What would you like people to know about your work?
In recent years I have been interested in the world outside the human realm, and visited several volcanic sites in national parks. There were many different types of ground condition such as solidified lava eroded by the sun, and bedrocks altered by volcanic water. By looking into the details of ground surfaces, I enjoyed imagining how the compositional ratio of earth elements results in different shapes and types of rocks, and how the latitude of the Earth affects their course of transformation. 

Last year when I attended a funeral, I was surprised upon seeing bones at a crematory because they had a colour similar to rock surfaces that I encountered at the top of a mountain. I was fascinated by the similarity, and my imagination flew to deep ocean trenches, the grand motion of plate tectonics, and the skeletal development that happens at an early stage in our life.

It is this sense of wonder, regarding planetary processes that occur similarly across bedrocks, organisms, and other artefacts, that I wanted to present in this exhibition. 

Along with photographs I am also showing “stones” which were collected at the shore of lakes and oceans. When you look into details you may find what they used to be and think about how they ended up in these forms.

An interesting thing about looking into something closely is that while your vision is locked in a tiny space, the physical relativity of your body and the subject diminishes, and your mind travels freely deep inside and goes beyond the material limitation. I am looking forward to seeing various artistic attentions to details and discovering how laws of nature operate in our multi-faceted world.

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Artist Interview: Mariko Jesse

Mariko is an illustrator and printmaker. She’s been part of Art Byte Collective for a year. In this interview she talks about color, artists and her studio practice.

Do you have a favourite color or color palette?
I tend to use organic colours in my work, like browns, greens and reds, but I like adding little details of bright pink and yellow.

Do you have a favourite artist?
I love artists whose work is unlike mine, but make me think in a new way, or surprise me and inspire me conceptually, eg. Howard Hodgkin, Cornelia Parker, Richard Wentworth, and James Turrell. I’m also inspired by illustrators, such as Tove Jansson, Quentin Blake and Laura Carlin.

Explain your work in up to 40 words.
I’m an illustrator and printmaker, working in etching and mokuhanga (Japanese woodblock), and my prints are generally small and delicate. Being Eurasian, my work explores ideas about sense of place, belonging and mixed heritage. 

Do you pursue any themes? If so, what?
My work often features ceramics, specifically chinaware concerning tea. Tea, and its visual history, is endlessly fascinating to me. I’m inspired by ordinary things, like the teacups we use every day.

Describe your studio practice? Do you have any habits or rituals when producing art?
I can only start making prints when the studio or place I’m working is completely clean and tidy. It quickly becomes chaotic, but it has to start tidy!

Where is your favorite place to do work? Do you have a dedicated workspace or routine?
Working in the print studio is one of my favourite things. It’s a separate environment from my daily life, and I’m then able to shift my mind into a creative mode. I do my illustration work in a design studio, but love making prints in a space where I can make a mess!

Do you do any research and what kind if you do?
I always do research before starting any project or artwork. Usually it’s visual research, in the form of sketches from museum or library visits. I sketch all the time, and my many sketchbooks become my inspiration and source of information.

How long have you been working in the medium used for your work for In The Details?
I made my first print at around 4 years old; a monoprint made at kindergarden, but formally learned etching at art college. I studied mokuhanga in 2004 in Japan.

What do you like about this medium and what are its challenges?
There’s something special about printmaking, an element of chance, that I absolutely love. Sometimes it doesn’t work out, but just as often it can be perfect! I’m concentrating on mokuhanga at the moment, and looking forward to experimenting more.

What would you like people to know about your work.
My works are prints, which means they are part of an edition of a certain number, but as I usually work into my prints individually afterwards, in a variety of ways, they then become unique pieces, and not part of an edition. That’s why they are usually marked 1/1. 

Artist Interview: Patty Hudak

Patty Hudak in her Tokyo studio

Patty Hudak is an American painter currently studying mokuhanga. She has recently returned to the United States after living in Asia for over a decade. She describes her work as “concerned with expressing the space between my human anxiety and the wisdom I am trying to uncover from the natural forms around me.” Find more about Patty Hudak and her response to the theme “in the details” on her bio page.

Do you have a favourite color or color palette? 
Pure, dark black—the way shadow shapes create structural skeletons across a surface.

Do you have a favourite artist?
Some of my favorite artists are in this exhibition. I love the simple, yet powerful drips in Mia O’s work. I’m inspired by Arthur Huang‘s persistence as recorded in the conviction of his line. Yuko Kamei’s expansion of her dance practice into visual symbols reminds me that connection into the visual world can come through other forms of perception.

Explain your work in up to 40 words.
My work is trying to make sense between influences from the East and West; where does calligraphy meet abstract expressionism? How do natural forms and phenomena influence structures in art? Can we create images whose pattern becomes disordered, in a way, create the beauty and power of the natural world, without directly imitating it?

Describe your studio practice? Do you have any habits or rituals when producing art?
My best studio days include 30 minutes of observational drawing, formatting the drawings, clearing my mind, then painting from a place of emptiness. 

Could you talk about your creative process for responding to the theme of In The Details? Did your idea come to you right away? Did you have to experiment a lot? After spending twelve years in 3 of Asia’s largest cities, I am now living in a small rural community in the northern USA. For the past year, I have been communicating through illogical or non intellectual means as I immerse myself in the forest around me. I try to feel and sense my reaction, without words, what my body is emoting from being in these spaces. Sometimes, I stand and feel the sensations, without trying to capture it in any way. The shapes and colors in my work are directly derived from these somatic experiences.

Sometimes inspiration strikes and everything comes together just as imagined and other times inspiration is just a starting place. How close is your finished piece to what you first imagined?
Imagination works perfectly; with art, it’s not always that way. Materials create limitations. What I create is a collaboration between my intentions and how the materials respond. This is the most exciting part of the process— the dance between my mind and the materials that I am working on. 

Artist Interview: Michelle Zacharias

Michelle is a Canadian painter and printmaker. In this interview Michelle talks about her quest to make handmade, natural pigments from dust. Be sure to read to the end where Michelle makes requests for more dust!

How long have you been working in the medium used for
your work for In The Details?

A little more than a year in my spare time while I also
work in other media, such as coloured pencil.

What do you like about this medium and what are its
challenges?

What do I like about dust? Or should I say, what do I
like about working with natural pigments? Since it is an
easily obtained natural pigment, it is free. The other
things I need to work with it are also affordable. I also
like that each sample is different. Every location has
variations in the factors that affect the colour, and that is
intriguing.

The processing and the concept are not necessarily
something I like. Why not? I started using filtered dust
as a natural pigment because of my personal
connection to it. I seem to have a sensitivity, a kind of
allergy for an easily understood comparison, to aeolian
dust from China and fine particulate matter (PM 2.5) in
our polluted air. And, yes, working with loose dust is
probably not good for my health.

Other challenges? I make something that looks like
paint, but it does not act like paint or ink. It does not
dissolve or flow like you think it should. Particles are not
always the same size, and tiny wool or acrylic fibres are
almost impossible to filter out. It clumps. Layers?
Possible but also likely to erase the underlying layers
despite extra sizing on the paper. The colour is pale
and delicate, and that frustrates my love of bold line
and colour. It is tricky. On top of that, it might be free but
getting it from other locations can be difficult. Some
people are disgusted by the idea; some are intrigued.

You never know which group a person will fall in. I have
learned that the housekeeping department at a hotel
can be an asset.

Could you talk about your creative process for responding to
the theme of In The Details? Did your idea come to you
right away? Did you have to experiment a lot?

Since I was a printmaker, I tend to do detailed work
regardless of a show’s theme. I have been working on
these studies or experiments for a while. I wanted to
show the wind flows all over the world and indicate how
the aeolian (yellow) dust from China arrives in Japan. In
some seasons, the winds that deliver the dust are much
stronger and larger, resembling a monster in shape and
in character. I have been doing lots of experiments with
medium and with design. I still am.

Sometimes inspiration strikes and everything comes
together just as imagined and other times inspiration is just
a starting place. How close is your finished piece to what
you first imagined?

Usually quite different. An idea is exactly that. It is an
idea for where I can start. After that, each piece
organically moves in its own direction. If I try too hard to
stick with my original idea, I end up forcing it and the
result will be stiff, drained of energy.

What would you like people to know about your work?
* A common, organic energy is in all my work regardless of the medium I use be it etching, coloured pencil, pastel, or powdered pigments (natural or artificial) and regardless of the genre. This should hopefully identify the work as being made by Michelle Zacharias.
* Yes, it really is dust. I filtered out the hair, fibres, popcorn, staples, and so on. I probably lose lots to the environment since I do not work in a lab but I still get quite a lot. After that, I zap it in the microwave to kill any germs and so on.
* I do not usually work on such small pieces of art!
* I am still exploring. I have ideas for both abstract and figurative work.
Yes, I accept bags of dust. I would prefer if it came with a snapshot of the donor(s) wearing surgical masks for a project I have started in which I want to do portraits of people with paint made from the dust or natural pigments from their house. No, I do not want lint from your dryer. That is not dust!
* I am hoping to do a solo show of anti-pollution work in various styles and media in the future. If anyone know the owner of Duskin, let me know. Maybe we can arrange a sponsorship. If anyone knows of someone who works in a lab where they analyze air or dirt for pollutants, please let me know.

 

Artist Interview: Yoshiyuki Horikoshi

Yoshiyuki Horikoshi is a painter based in Gunma, Japan. His work is mainly with oil paint. You can find out more about him on his bio page.

Do you have favorite color or color palette?
I like all colors. 

What music/album are you currently listening to? 
Kaho Nakamura AINOU. 

Describe your studio practice? Do you have any habits or rituals when producing art? 
Play music.

Do you pursue any themes? If so, what?
Change, transformation, distortion. Freshness for myself. I can’t do the same thing. 

What do you like about your medium and what are its challenges?
I like oil paint. I like that it’s easy to mix. I want to draw a mixed state.

What would you like people to know about your work?
I hope everyone has fun. I wish I could convey the feeling that I was struggling to convey with this piece.

Artist Interview: Deanna Gabiga

Studio Mood: Above & Beyond’s We Are All We Need

Deanna Gabiga is an interdisciplinary artist working in metals, fiber, and photography. Most recently from the amazing islands of Hawai’i, she has returned to Japan with a greatly expanded collection of textile artwork.

Explain your work in up to 40 words:
My artwork revolves around textiles; the creation of, the deconstruction of, the transformation of, and recreation of entirely new textiles. From a single line of fibers and/or metals, I create beautiful textiles while telling a story. These stories are of personal experiences or something I have witnessed in my travels. These textiles I stitch together and then examined more closely, often with macro photography which in turn provides material to create more textiles in yet another form.

What do you like about working with textiles and what are its challenges?
A single thread becomes another and another and in its infinity and multiplicity a story comes together. Combining these infinite threads creates more colors and the palette in which I explore becomes larger. Endangered Oceans is a piece in which I explore color. Blues; warm tropical blues to the deeper and darker ocean blues. I have spent my life not likeing the color blue, yet when I moved to Hawai’i, blue became a fascination for me. I felt like I saw the color blue for the first time and much of my work most recently has been around the color blue, its various facets, including what it represents.

What inspired you to create Endangered Oceans?
My life and travels as an adult have been surrounded by ocean and each place I go it is common to see ghost netting washing ashore and entangling with wildlife. It is ubiquitous. Destroying so much more than the fish it was originally meant to capture. Endangered Oceans represents the gorgeous blues I have encountered, the bright pops of corals, and the sparkling flashes of fish. You can see the ghost netting floating in the layers of ocean waters, hiding under it’s gorgeous waves.

Which artist has most inspired you?
Moving from jewelry design into wire crochet sculptural pieces has been the right path for me. Inspired by the crochet installation works of Arline Fisch I saw in a magazine article, I immediately started to learn how to crochet. Funny enough, it turns out a majority of her work is simply using a crochet hook to pull simple loops of the wire through other loops on a previous row. Yes, this is crochet but I had in my mind from the poor picture quality that the complete stitches and patterns were used as if one was making a scarf or hat. In this way I accidentally created my own style of wire crochet work. I did meet Arline a couple of times when I was living in San Diego, CA. and found her to be the consumate teacher. Peppering me with questions about my work and giving me vital advice regarding healthy long-term care of my hands & wrists to just giving me great sources for materials completely unprompted.

What additional activities will you be providing during In The Details?
On, Tuesday, Jan 30, from 1:00 – 3:00PM, I will be providing a small fiber demonstration/workshop on the technique I used to create Endangered Oceans. Please sign up in advance at studio deanna (at) me (dot) com. There are only a total of (4) spots available. The workshop will be ¥3,000/person and will include all materials necessary to create a small work of art.


studiodeanna.com

Artist Interview: Mia O

Mia O is a Korean mokuhanga artist and painter based in Tokyo. You can read more about her on her bio page.

Is there a book or a film that influenced you?
Two books that have recently impacted me are Guns, Germs, and Steel by Jared Diamond and Sapiens by Yuval Harari. These books have expanded my vision, inspiring my growing interest in history, philosophy, and anthropology.

Do you have a favourite artist? I have many favourite artists, which are constantly changing, according to what I am working on. The artists who are always at the top of my list are Jakuchu, Ufan Lee, Cy Twombly, Andy Goldsworthy and James Turrell. 

Do you have any habits or rituals when producing art?
When I arrive at my studio, I write a note detailing the very least that I should do on that day. Most of time, when I am finished in the studio, I complete what I have written.

Where is your favorite place to do work? Do you have a dedicated workspace.
I used to work at home, which was sometimes distracting for me. Last year, I found a small space in my neighborhood. Since then, even if I spend only a small amount of time there, I am able to focus my mind entirely on my work.

How long have you been working in the medium used for your work for In The Details?
For In The Details, I am exhibiting my acrylic paintings on paper. Although many people know me for my work in Mokuhanga, I have been painting in acrylics for over 20 years, and acrylic painting has been the inspiration for my work in Mokuhanga. 
Currently, I am adding a lot of water to the acrylic paint, so that it acts more like watercolor. I want to capture of drooling of the paint on the smooth paper surface. 

Could you talk about your creative process for responding to the theme of In The Details? Did your idea come to you right away? Did you have to experiment a lot?
When I work, I usually don’t think about a theme. For over 10 years, my practice has been driven by concepts of landscape, so my work naturally fit the theme of this exhibition. As with most artists, I constantly seek new imagery. These paintings represent approximately 8-9 months of physically expressing my conceptual ideas. I never know how long a painting will take me to finish.

Sometimes inspiration strikes and everything comes together just as imagined and other times inspiration is just a starting place. How close is your finished piece to what you first imagined?
For me, making art is like an experience where you don’t know what will come out at the end. If you know the results ahead of time, the experience is not as exciting. Sometimes, even what may seem like mistakes are driven to nice directions; the painting becomes a journey. I’m very satisfied with my paintings in this exhibition.