Four images of those who bully and those who are bullied. Unifying the four are words of a handmade poem-postcard sent by my mother. They roughly translate to “When I Want Someone To Talk To.” My mother and I have a complicated relationship. It will always be a one-way communication channel between us. Over the last fifteen years we took bargain-priced Japanese bus tours that included stops at various hot springs, inns and historic villages. The gentle motion of the bus on the highway and monotonous drawl of the bus guide were conducive to dozing off and talking. During these long rides mom shared memories of her childhood and mine. Her stories surprised me and forced me to question my own memories. Her recollections created context for my sickly childhood, tumultuous family life, intergenerational sibling relationships fragmented beyond repair, and her desire to live a solitary life in her old age. Whether true or false, her memories freed me and validated the life I chose to live. Now that her memories have drifted away I treasure the gift of memory mom shared with me.
2017 quadriptych (10" x 10" each), mixed media on canvas with paper, acrylics and graphite.
Hanako was my father’s mother and I was named after her. A great beauty, she captivated her husband. Eventually his love and the many children she bore exhausted her. My father was the last child. She gave him over to a wet nurse to raise. She was too tired for any more love.
2015 collage of paper and ephemera.
asian american alien american
I have lived under the Japanese flag and the American flag, owned the passport of one country, then of another. This diptych memorializes the two cultures that are a part of me. The Japanese flag is layered with calligraphic journal pages and my Japanese passport is surrounded by paper cocktail umbrellas that conjure up the "Made in Japan" stereotype. The American flag includes my Japanese birth certificate, application for citizenship, US passport and stars & stripes toothpicks. Years ago, during a lunch break, I went to the INS to take my citizenship exam. When I got back to the office, my colleagues surprised me with a celebratory cake. On it were nearly 100 US flag toothpicks. I shall never forget the day I gave up one country for another.
2008 diptych mixed media collage and acrylic paint.
This artist's book is a tribute to Indonesian author, Pramoedya Ananta Toer (2/6/25 - 4/30/06). Pramoedya spent much of his productive writing years imprisoned for his "subversive" beliefs in the rights of the downtrodden. In 1965, Pramoedya was arrested and beaten to the point of losing most of his hearing. All of the books in his house were burned on the spot. He was sent to Buru Island for 14 years as a political prisoner. Pramoedya labored under harsh conditions, clearing the land, planting crops and constructing buildings. He was not allowed pen and paper for 8 of the 14 years he was imprisoned. Despite everything, he managed to create a four-volume novel called the Buru Quartet during his incarceration. Fearful that his story would never by published, he recited his tale to fellow prisoners every night. They smuggled their notes out of the prison so that his stories could be preserved. It was only towards the end of his incarceration that he was given a typewriter and paper to write his books. Pramoedya was one of the last prisoners freed from Buru in 1979, but he was held under house arrest in Jakarta until 1992. He passed away on April 30, 2006 at the age of 81.
2008 artist's accordion book with ironed images.