In my creative process, I try not to convey any specific message but concentrate on communicating with the materials I work with. I deliberately minimize my intention, sometimes even by blurring the brush marks, or by stretching the hand carved marks.
I am interested in exploring art forms that allow me to spontaneously collaborate with the materials I work with. Rather than forcing them to fit my intention, I enjoy the interactive process with the media. The materials speak to me and make me respond to them. Each medium has a unique character, and often demands a specific artistic process or combination with other materials. The message in my work is rarely my idea alone – rather I wish to co-exist in harmony with nature, by listening to the voices of the materials.
Being raised in Japan, I am naturally influenced by the philosophy behind the traditional Japanese art forms, such as calligraphy and tea ceremony. In Japanese cuisine, for example, it is the ingredients that takes the center stage, while the chef merely assists them to come out at their best. In my creative process also, I strive to assist the materials bring out their innate energy, rather than overpower them.
Starting as a painter, I enjoyed the drips of paint and the cracks in dried paint, but was still searching for more substantial materials. The clay was raw material and felt more real. The clay could be worked into and had depth. It was a perfect three-dimensional canvas for me to explore texture and color.
As motifs of my works, I use various elements from nature, ranging from animals and plants to the earth and universe. These motifs appear in poetic ways in my works. They may be images of fingerprints and topographic maps overlaid, or wood grain patterns suggestive of water ripples. They may be thinly sliced pieces of landscape, or thinly sliced moments of eternal time, manifesting themselves as delicately thin ceramic sculptures.
I sometimes silkscreen images of animal skins, shells, organic cells, or satellite landscapes onto clay, and camouflage them by spray glazing them or putting them to smoke firing. I also use naked Raku, the technique of peeling off glaze after Raku firing, to obtain natural surface effects. These techniques sometimes result in fossil like objects, suggesting the passage of time embroidered in the elements of nature.
Fragility is another characteristic in many of my works. I like working with thin surfaces, because it gives me a sense of tension both in space and time. Fragility may be viewed as a negative trait, but it can be the essence of beauty, as is taught by the central dogma of Japanese tea ceremony, “ichigo-ichie,” or “treasure every encounter for it will never recur”.
The life of an artwork is temporary, as is everything else in life. Perhaps my fragile artworks will challenge people to appreciate the fragility and temporary nature of the life we lead today.