For the last several years I have been exploring themes of identity. As an Asian American of Japanese descent, that identity crosses two disparate cultures. I don’t view it as a negative or a positive reality; it simply is. I combine memory, autobiographical experiences, and observations to create visual dialogs and expressions of everyday life. I often appropriate cultural symbols and the traditional iconography of Japan and America, and place them in a personal and contemporary context. I approach my subject matter seriously, yet with a wink and a light heart.
I started to use cultural symbols metaphorically in my artwork in 2002 when I was invited to participate in a “Color” show. It was at that time I realized I wanted to address my own “color” and began a series of drawings and paintings based on some of the stereotypes and misunderstandings which I experience and observe. Asian Americans encounter misconceptions based solely on their appearance—a perception that I explore in my artwork. It is a personal approach.
What began as an exploration of identity through the perspective of cultural duality, has evolved to express the relationship of the inner self to exterior life—considering ones sense of place and of being in the world. I’m encompassing thoughts on the search for equilibrium and ideas regarding the mutable nature of identity itself.
I have stripped away the surface, the “skin” of the previous work, to reveal its “bones”—the search for a sense of wholeness, openness, and authenticity emerging from the fragmenting noise of assumptions and preconceptions. The process of becoming is a multi-layered construct which is continually growing and changing. I’m expressing the complexity of identity through simplified, essential forms.
For me the circle-in-the-square evokes a kind of perfect duality—an expression of unity, integration and inclusion, and inner acceptance and peace—as tenuous as it may be.