Rabbit Jar 2015
Porcelain, 6” x 5” x 5”
“My Japanese roots have given me tools to make work and inspired me with its aesthetic. Often as I draw, I am searching for the feeling of natsukashii in my work. Although there is no direct English translation, the Japanese word natsukashii 懐かしい, roughly translates as ‘dear, missed, longing for.’ It’s a word used to describe a nostalgic memory of something that was once very close. I think in any immigrant family, there is a feeling of both yearning for the past and looking ahead to the future.
Along with natsukashii, I’m interested in utilizing the concept for kawaii or “cute,” which has become a global phenomenon that is at once troubling and engaging. On a shallow level it’s infantilizing, and yet the power of cuteness to touch a softer side of someone is critical to my work, because the day-to-day attachments we have to objects that are precious to us affect our quality of life.
From Japan, I’ve inherited a devotion to craftsmanship. Getting the details right in quality and sensibility is what matters to me, whether it’s the foot of a cup, the toothy grin of a whale, the comic timing in a video, or the exposure in a photograph. Being a modern day potter means doing everything well, from soup to nuts, and understanding that we are no longer defined by one medium.
Japan is at my aesthetic heart. It moves me like nothing else does. The extremes within Japanese culture speak to my desire for duality, for having it all. I not only want the facile gesture of Hamada’s glazing ladle, I also want the sincerity in old Godzilla movies, the thick stacks of manga printed on cheap newsprint, not to mention the sophisticated composition of a Hiroshige print. My work reflects my own duality of growing up half-Japanese in a big immigrant Japanese family in the middle of a very white culture. While I can’t help but be American, I also long for a Japan lost fifty years ago when my family emigrated here.”