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Aomi Kikuchi

Theme of work
I made these small works themed “Matters” of our life. Frogs are used for questioning these matters from the viewpoint of the natural world. I insist on the importance of “mindful” life. But it’s very difficult to practice. There are many temptations and traps that drive us to desire, and even if one wish comes true, a new one will soon emerge and be endless. When we cannot achieve these desires, we regret the past and worry about the future. I hope viewers will see these works, be aware of their problems, think about their lives and start thinking about their “mindful” life.

Medium
Three-layered silk organza, Acid Dye, Pigment, Bamboo Hoop

Technique
I layered and dyed three pieces of silk organza simultaneously with acid dyes and pigments after drawing outlines with a gold color Sumi Ink. Steaming to fix colors, pressed, and separated to be framed.

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Interview

–             When did you discover your artistic vocation?
Although I enjoyed creating art since I was a child, I recognized art as my vocation when I studied it at Pratt’s MFA. I learned fashion design in my early twenties and started working in the fashion industry. However, I lost my enthusiasm and could not continue when I realized that designers play a role in mass production, mass consumption, and in the exploitation of low-wage labor.
In my thirties, I was fascinated by the beauty of kimono and learned dyeing, particularly, the Yuzen kimono dye method. Unfortunately, I cannot help admitting that kimono is one of the folk costumes of the perishing world. The negative cycle continues, as fewer people wear them, the fewer craftsmen and lack of tools. While learning and protecting the traditional techniques in order to pass them on to future generations, my creative activities gradually evolved from dyeing kimono to contemporary art.
Through graduate school, I began to confront not only the outer beauty of kimono such as the appearance and dyeing techniques, but also the concept that cultivated its culture and the fundamental question, what dyeing is. I truly respect the textile art traditions that have played a significant role in human life and culture. However, I wanted to work further to present a new perspective by questioning the conventional practice, not by just faithfully protecting it. My creation is in the process of these explorations.

–            Which artist and / or cultural current was particularly important for your training?
I have been deeply influenced by Japanese culture and Buddha’s philosophy. Wabi- sabi is acknowledged universally as a Japanese aesthetic. It emphasizes on finding the beauty of something that is not perfect. Another aesthetic you can see in my work is Mono-no-aware, which is a sentimental aesthetic that resonates with the changing seasons and perishing of things. These kinds of aesthetics are profoundly influenced by Buddha’s philosophy. That is, life is non-persistent and intangible, all living things are equally important, and that desire produces suffering. People want perfection and there are many things that they want to keep forever, such as youth, money and status. Both getting and losing them are painful.
Accepting things that are not perfect, understanding that life is limited, and caring for others brings peace to the mind. Without a peaceful heart, we cannot focus on the current moment. We are unable to care about our present life if we are distracted by the memories of what happened in the past or thoughts of what will happen in the future. However, it is actually not easy for us to centralize this moment. Advanced human brains complicate things and prevents us from being mindful. Therefore, recently meditation has been in high demand for a way to seek calmness. I am influenced by these ideas and will continue to make my works relating to these ideas.

–            What should an artist represent and inspire with own art?
I think artists have rich imaginations. They are capable of using all of their energy to portray their imagination into shape which they are actually successful at
achieving. Most of the time, their imagination is triggered from the act of solving problems.
Their creative activities ultimately bring something new to this world. Not just limited to tangible things, but also new perspectives are born. They also have the opportunity to collaborate in large projects. In such cases, the power of such artists can have a major influence on social movements. I believe that these are what artists should perform and galvanize them.
Also, through my art, I want to let viewers experience Buddha’s philosophy such as the world’s impermanence, pain of craving, and heart of compassion.
Today, this world is abundant with beautiful and convenient things. Capitalism brainwashes people that enjoying life is the top priority and most people seem to have no questions about it. There is the phrase “Put a lid on anything that stinks.” Humans ignore or avoid things that they do not want to see or think. This can even be done unconsciously by our brain. Impermanence, suffering, and mercy, the subject of my work may not be pleasant to the viewer. However, when we confront and start to accept these things, I believe it will help us live in the moment, which will lead to the first step towards a truly fulfilling life.

–           What techniques do you prefer to carry out your artworks?
I am a textile artist. Starting from dressmaking, I learned many techniques such as embroidery, dyeing, weaving, spinning, silkscreen, hand and machine knitting, and braids. I learned not only textiles, but also pottery, bisque dolls, porcelain paintings, Japanese paintings, and Western paintings. Through all of these training, I am able to make full use of various parts of these techniques to my creation. Sometimes I apply techniques from several different genres in either multiple or integrated ways. At other times I incorporate embroidery techniques into sculptures or make original sculptures using cotton and water-soluble adhesives. Furthermore,I even create works with videos, picturing my physical works. Therefore, I like to expose myself to explore innovative ways to create, by experimenting all sorts of techniques on my works.

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