Here, we ask designers to take a selfie and give us an inside look at their life.
Hometown: Osaka, Japan.
Studio location: Berkeley, California.
Describe what you make: Drawings, felt sculptures, installations, and public art.
The most important thing you’ve designed to date: I just completed a large public art project consisting of nine painted bronze sculptures commissioned by Uber HQ in San Francisco. It’s a sculpture park along a public pathway, and the sculptures range from three to 20 feet high. This installation includes the largest sculpture I’ve made in my career. I’m very happy to see the new appearance of bronze with bright automobile paint finish. The most exciting part is that I contributed to creating a public space for the community. It’s important that we have access to art outside of museums and galleries. We should be exposed to more art and creative product in our daily lives.
Describe the problem your work solves: What I believe is that our current social/racial injustice is resulted from old mythologies and fictional narratives. I’d like to contribute by creating a context where we can generate new mythologies that are relevant and just to all of us. The inclusive narratives and redefined social values can steer us to a better society. It’s a small contribution I can make as an artist, but I believe change comes from a small place and this can grow into large collective efforts.
Describe the project you are working on now: Right now two solo exhibitions just opened in July and run through September 25, 2021. New Mythologies at CULT Aimee Friberg Exhibitions in San Francisco, and Radical Hope at Ryan Lee Gallery in New York. New Mythologies includes watercolor drawings, bronze and felt sculptures, and mural installations. “Radical Hope” is a special gallery window installation of six felt sculptures and wall design, right next to The High Line in New York. The best spot to see the installation is from The High Line.
A new or forthcoming project we should know about: I have a public art project in the San Francisco Bay area coming up, and I’m creating benches with reclaimed redwood. I’m also working on the production of large bronze sculptures and preparing to collaborate with a ceramic studio in Mexico for a large-scale mural.
What you absolutely must have in your studio: Podcasts, audio books, and good coffee are musts. I have a pretty good set up in my studio. I like listening to audio books in English and Japanese. It’s interesting to hear how the same content is translated with each language.
What you do when you’re not working: I’m always working in my studio. But I love eating good food, cooking when I have time, and traveling. I go back to Japan at least once a year, but it’s been challenging to go back there due to Covid. I always go to a new hot spring when I go there.
Sources of creative envy: I love any kind of craft/folk art from different cultures like Japanese Mingei, Mexican folk art, Danish craft, and so on. One of my favorite museums is the National Museum of Ethnology in Osaka, Japan. Ancient artifacts from all over the world are always inspiring because they illuminate the real sense of life in different times and regions. As a living artist, Hiroshi Sugimoto’s installations have always been inspiring for me. My recent visit to his Enoura Observatory in Odawara, Tokyo was memorable. The glass stage with amphitheater seating facing to the Pacific Ocean was just incredible.
The distraction you want to eliminate: Social media.
Concrete or marble? More leaning to concrete now. I am developing concept designs for a public art project with concrete with terrazzo tiles.
High-rise or townhouse? Townhouse. In the future, I am contemplating building a Hiraya (traditional one-story townhouse) in the countryside in Japan.
Remember or forget? Remember and Reminder.
Aliens or ghosts? Aliens and ghosts. I am a (legal) alien who creates artwork about ghosts.
Dark or light? Dark and light. Dark is light, and light is dark.
(Portrait of artist Masako Miki by Andrew Payter. Courtesy of CULT Aimee Friberg Exhibitions.)