Today Nobuhito Nishigawara is here to talk about his work. I loved his piece in the recent OsCene show at Laguna Art Musueum and thought you would enjoy meeting him too.
mj: The moment I saw your piece in the OsCene show, I fell in love with it; the playfulness and the large scale, the contrast of ancient and pop--it was such a joyful thing to behold. Could you tell me more about this piece, what it meant to you, your process in creating the piece, and how it represents your style as an artist?
nobuhito: My body of work is about personal multiple cultural identities in a melting pot such as southern California. I borrow historical elements from art history and combine then with images that represent contemporary culture. In this piece the donkey is representative of the contemporary hybrid culture. The historical figurine is holding this donkey just like history can be a platform or starting point for a new culture.
In my work, I borrow visual elements form the history of art. The joining of borrowed multicultural sources acts as a metaphor for contemporary hybrid culture. Living in a highly visual culture, we have become familiar to non-native images. When images and ideas from one culture are transported into another, they are inevitably changed, especially when original meanings are inaccessible. What they come to mean is what we want them to be because they are filtered through our own perceptions. Cross-fertilization of ideas through multicultural interactions brings new influences in a hybrid culture.
A donkey often has conflicting associations from a political icon, to signifying ignorance, to hard working, to gentle, or stubborn. This pluralistic representation is at the core of our multifarious culture. The innocence represented through a children’s toy reflects the malleability of our culture through commercialization and how society influences and molds us to be seen certain ways.
mj: How does your environment in Southern California, (Orange County to be exact) affect/inspire your work?
nobuhito: It has been great because my work is about living in a such a diverse environment/culture and my work does not exist without my personal daily experience in OC/LA. I really enjoy the diversity in Southern California.
mj: You're known as a ceramicist, but I've also seen that you've done some prints in your show at Mark Moore Gallery. Could you talk a little about how different mediums speak to you or inspire you?
nobuhito: I make all the originals with clay. The prints at Mark Moore Gallery were printed from a clay relief I carved. With my current body work, I am casting with different synthetic materials such as resin and foam. I also interested in mediums that are used so often in our culture. I am not restricted to clay, but it is normally part of my work.
mj: I would love to know what are you working on now? Are you continuing with the same themes/characters that have appeared in your more recent work?
nobuhito: I am continuing with the same theme/concept although there are some changes.
Thanks so much Nobuhito for stopping by! A special thanks to Marni and Laguna Art Museum for helping to make this interview possible.