Artist Statement

Reflecting a life which is both culturally Japanese and American, my graphite drawings hybridize influences from traditional Japanese calligraphy combined with Western drawing practices and aesthetics.

Growing up in Japan, every Saturday afternoon was spent with my Sensei, a calligraphy mater who would assign words for each of us to practice. We would spend hours producing copies of the Sensei's sample. The goal was to imitate the sample, paying attention to the line quality, the varying speed, the pressure and angle of the brush movement. The handling of the brush had to become rhythmic and graceful.

In preparation to entrance exam to art schools in Japan, I had to take private lessons to learn drawing with graphite and charcoal. Saturday afternoons were spent at a Western style art studio with pedestals, still lifes, and white marble copies of Roman busts.  The fluid ink was replaced with malleable graphite and ephemeral charcoal. The wet immediacy of calligraphic line was replaced with illusionistic volumes meticulously rendered in chiaroscuro. Instead of going through dozens of rice papers in a session, one sheet of high-quality cotton paper was given to work on. 


My current works evolve from the perspective of having a physical body with a globally conditioned mind in a temporal space. I intuitively draw the Japanese calligraphy, stretching, weaving, and changing it until the composition demands the meticulous solidification of mass, light, and shadow. I reference Japanese proverbs as well as my own poems, which in their own way resonate to the simplicity and richness of haiku. In each work, hiragana and kanji characters intertwine to create a single line which has only one entrance and one exit on the pictorial plane. The line usually begins at the top right and ends toward the bottom left of the page, following traditional Asian writing.  It is a single line symbolizing a life: one entrance as birth, and one exit as death, representing the two doorways opening and closing our being.  

Traditional Asian art-forms have often integrated word and image. Woven into my calligraphy, I often include images of persons, animals, and still lifes drawn from my familiar experience. 

Whether through the literary artifacts of traditional proverbs, or through personal expressions in poetry and pictures, these word-images are reflections on human nature, place, self, ephemerality, permanence, and universal wisdom. Simply stated, these drawings are expressions of a unique perspective, where East and West combine.