Dear Sachiko, tell us how did you discover your passion for sculpture? What was your first work?
I liked to make things when I was young. When I was in kindergarten there was a commercial on TV for scotch tape and I thought it was the most amazing material. I asked for a roll for Christmas and when I received it, I immediately made a big ball out of it. My parents were upset that I had wasted it, but I still think of it as my first sculpture.
How do you pick your favorite characters to reproduce in sculptures?
My figures are all based on myself and my family including relatives who have passed away. In my work I appropriate, combine, and reinvent symbols from other cultures, literature, art movements and time periods. My wide range of artistic influences include Egyptian funerary sculptures, medieval Christian woodcarvings, Brancusi, and contemporary sculpture. The allegorical and dreamlike imagery in my work is also derived from a combination of personal memories, family history, dreams, and symbols from a variety of cultures including my own heritage. Natural symbols in particular interest me because I believe that the answers to existential questions lie hidden in nature and cannot be answered.
Some of your titles point out to the feeling that everything is a process. Nothing is completely finalized as in Untold Stories, On Finding Home, Between Dream and Memory, Things Unseen… What’s the philosophy behind your titles?
I combine symbols and gestures in a way that allows for multiple interpretations while still retaining a sense of inexplicability. This is what's behind what may be suggestive titles but that don’t finalize the meaning of the work as much as give cues to the viewer about how to approach the work.
What can you say about the reality of working in your studio and finding an audience for your art?
I feel fortunate to have been able to exhibit my work in a wide range of venues. I think getting work out of the studio is an important part of my practice. It is informative to install it in different spaces, to have my sculptures in dialogue with the work of other artists, and also to hear people’s responses. One of my favorite exhibitions that I participated in was Artists Without Borders at the Nielsen Gallery in Boston. It explored the broad range of interpretations of defining what it means to be political.
What is the process of your work? Do you prefer to finish everything within a set schedule or do you generally work in stages?
I work simultaneously on multiple sculptures at various stages of completion. Drawing is also an important part of my practice. It is a means of exploring ideas and finding solutions for problems in my sculpture. In my most recent body of work, I started to combine 2D images with 3D forms ("Between Here & Elsewhere" - the white bust with the landscape on the face, 2016). In my studio I am working on combining different materials, finding new and unexpected ways of combining the figure with the landscape, and combining flat images with three dimensional forms.
Who are your all time favorite sculptors? Did you ever wonder about gender playing a role in how your art was perceived, critiqued and promoted?
My all-time favorite artists include Diana Al-Hadid, Marisol, and Anne Chu. I was also incredibly inspired by the recent Picasso sculpture exhibition at the MOMA.
I do think that gender roles/identity issues play a role in my sculptures, especially pieces like the two figures with landscapes for heads, On Finding Home and Origins. When there are two figures, automatically people try to understand their relationship to one another. Also, since there is a man with a woman, the choices of symbols for each gender become significant. Any upcoming exhibitions?
In September I will have mostly new sculptures and drawings presented in a solo show at Matter and Light Gallery in Boston. My work will also be included in the Maine Biennial at Center for Maine Contemporary Art in Rockland, ME and a group exhibition at the George Marshall Gallery in York, Maine.
What is the motto fueling your attitude in art and life?
The motto that fuels my work is to be open-minded about where inspiration can come from and to also trust the process and myself. When I get too comfortable with what I’m making in the studio, I try to throw a wrench into this process. This usually gives rise to mild panic and I have to make a conscious effort to slow down, look carefully then trust my response.
What’s the most interesting message you’ve received about your work?
My favorite response about my sculpture came from someone who is not in the art world. She said that my sculptures are internal and quiet yet have a strong presence in the room.