Creativity inspired by nature and Japanese heritage

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“Neo Japonism Rock’n’Roll” by Naoko Morisawa

By Nina Huang
Northwest Asian Weekly

From a distance, Naoko Morisawa’s artwork looks like a painting, but look closer, and you will notice that they are wood mosaics. Her art is made from hundreds of thousands of small slices of natural and oil-dyed woodchips on a palette. Her art style is transformed from a traditional Japanese art form.

Morisawa decided she wanted to become an artist when she was just 18 years old. She likes to incorporate the patterns in the wood and enhance them with oil stains. Morisawa uses wood mosaics to convey the life and energy of her art.

“The variety of wood grain is very beautiful and the pattern is never the same,” said Morisawa. “The combinations of natural and oil-stained grains create interesting shadows and impressions. I can talk about life and the energetic atoms inside the shoes, waves, or waterfalls with my tiny wood slices.”

Bright, fun, and unusual subjects attract and inspire her to work in new directions. Recurring themes in her work include architecture, fashion, people, trees, mysterious creatures, illusions, waves, and waterfalls.

With a Bachelor of Arts in design from Tama Art University in Tokyo, Morisawa taught art at Yokohama and Tokyo community cultural center, before moving to the United States in 2005.

She also completed the Artist Trust EDGE professional program in Seattle in 2012.

This year, Morisawa’s work has been selected into Dublin Biennial International 2014, as one of 50 international artists.

She won the London Creative Award Competition in 2013, and was published in Hidden Treasure Art Magazine of London this year.

Not only does Morisawa draw inspiration from her heritage, but she also is inspired by international artists, such as Leonard Fujita, Yoshioka Takujin, and Issey Miyake. Locally, she admires Julie Paschkis and Juan Alonso-Rodriguez.

When asked about her favorite artwork, Morisawa replied, “I always love my latest work the best. I also like the work that gives me some of the studying process of new approach and design. Doing the same thing is boring for me, and I don’t think it’s creative. But some people always do the same thing, but that’s their own style.”

Wood is Morisawa’s favorite medium to use and it’s an important component in her art.

“The life of a tree and the energy in each grain of wood is why I use wood,” she said.

She is currently using some acrylic, Japanese paper, and sumi ink in her new artwork, but also wants to explore other mediums that she hasn’t used before. In the end, she wants to maintain her Japanese heritage into her final pieces.

Morisawa also enjoys finding new ways to approach art styles. For example, one of her favorites includes “Transmigration World XIII,” in which she created the piece through a trial and error approach in about 10 days. She had to try seven times in order to complete the piece after it constantly collapsed and broke down, but ultimately found a new style of mosaic through the project.

Typically, her larger pieces that are 24”x18” or 30”x24” in size take more than a month to complete.

“True success always needs patience. I hope that people can experience freedom and creativity from my art,” she added.

Morisawa’s work is currently on display at Northwind Art Center in Port Townsend, Kate Arkarni Gallery, Columbia Winery in Woodinville, The Lake Shore in South Seattle, and the Wing Luke Museum. The Wing Luke Museum’s gift store also has prints and handmade wooden pendants available for purchase.

“I create art that is natural, playful, and lifts people’s spirits. But I also want my artwork to be about myself, like a diary. Each piece is created with the care one would use when writing a letter to a loved one or friend,” she said. (end)

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Photos on flickr