Despite the divergence among the various series of my works, they are all about my personal journey. A journey that has put me in touch with my inner emotions, philosophy and spirit revealing my deep attachment to, and harmony with, nature. Each of the series has followed a previous one by some discovery, either physical or emotional, which has led me to explore new methods or materials while maintaining the inner core of my being.
In the Kaicho of Sumi (gradations of sumi) works I have reverted to the Japanese tradition of using sumi ink, but in new and varied ways, which I use to express my intent through the dynamism of the abstract forms. In some of these works I have applied the sumi directly to the canvas, in others to newspapers (particularly the ArtWeek periodical) or newsprint which is collaged onto the canvas. Although the sumi stained paper was not initially done intentionally but rather is the by-product of my working on other pieces, it became a pivotal element of these works. The artlessness of the results furthered my desire for spontaneity and thus became the focal part of this series.
I was born in rural Japan and grew up admiring modern western literature, music and art. I was enthralled with European culture, in particular the art of the impressionists, French philosophers, and romantic classical music. Soon after I arrived in the United States, at age 20, I began art studies at Illinois-Normal, and Illinois-Wesleyan in Bloomington, and was introduced to the American contemporary art scene. Shortly thereafter I moved to the island of Kauai, Hawaii where I became part of an active art group, exhibiting at local venues. In the mid 60’s I moved to San Francisco and became part of the visionary art group there. After several years I decided to return to school and enrolled in the San Francisco Art Institute (SFAI), earning first a BFA and later an MFA. During those years I began to look back at my native culture, its philosophy and diverse artistic and cultural beliefs, contemplating their influences on my life and work. Prior to attending SFAI I had started to study Chado (the Japanese Tea Ritual) which deepened my understanding of the ideals and values of my native Japan. During my years at the Art Institute I became interested in how I could incorporate both cultures in my work. Although I had adopted America as my country with deep roots in its culture and society, there is still a part of my heart which holds tight to my native culture and through which all my thoughts and actions are channeled. This journey winds between both cultures, as between heaven and earth; it is, as it were, my own private purgatory. Drawing from both of these backgrounds I have melded them in an interwoven fabric of east and west therein creating an individuality which is at the same time both yet neither.
At one point, while working on a piece using sumi, I blotted up the excess with some paper towels. For some unknown and intuitive feeling I put the blotted towels aside rather than throw them away. After they had dried I noticed them and was fascinated by the way the blotted sumi had dried, intrigued by the shapes and gradations of the ink. This led me to try dipping the towels in the sumi, this time laying them on newspapers to soak up the excess ink….and now there was a newer pattern that combined the printed text with the blotted sumi. I continued this process using both newspapers (especially the late ArtWeek papers) and newsprint, saving piles of these stained papers as I decided how to incorporate them in my work.
Some of the larger pieces, particularly the newspaper and newsprint, I pasted directly onto large canvases. Once the papers were glued to the canvases I began to work on strengthening and unifying them, using oil paints, gesso, oil pencils etcetera. The smaller pieces I glued onto small canvases, 10”x10” or 12”x12”. Later I laid these small canvases on the floor arranging and rearranging them into a grid form which I eventually bolted together. Once they were bolted together I worked on them as I had the larger canvases until I achieved a visual cohesiveness and sensual movement.