My desire to create art comes from my search for the meaning of our existence. I use my artwork as a key to understand others and myself. The most precious thing in my life is the growth process. Art is my guide and mentor....

Friday, November 12, 2021

Peace and Harmony Project Report , Autumn News


Autumn has arrived and is progressing. It’s a beautiful, colorful season. At the same time, the fallen leaves signal that the end of the year approaches. 

With the support of a City Artist Corps Grant, I presented several Peace & Harmony Japanese paper workshops from July through October. Using Japanese paper, dyed by participants, 30 paper cranes, and 5 medicine balls, that consist of 30 origami flowers each, were completed in collaboration with several groups of participants.

Kusudama (medicine balls), were made by people of different races, ages, genders, personalities, and ways of thinking, with the common desire for health, long life, and peace. The flowers were folded out of hand-dyed Japanese paper of many patterns and colors, were tied with threads, and became harmonious and beautiful works that symbolize our hopes.                    

                                               


Through this project, I was able to meet many people and communities. The conversations during our workshops brought us together. We learned about current events we are dealing with from various angles.

Many participants said that origami was therapeutic. Origami can be used to improve patience and concentration, as well as to prevent dementia and stress. The smiles of the participants as they completed their works, became a driving force for me. Thank you very much to the host organizations, the participants, and NY Foundation for the Arts which provided a City Artist Corps Grant. Fueled by these positive experiences, I will continue my Peace & Harmony Project.

 

Looking back, since I started working with Japanese paper in the United States 20 years ago, I have wanted to share and spread the Japanese culture that values harmony. Mr. Matsuda, a Japanese-American artist who I met through peace activities, arranged to have me teach workshops at this year’s Japan Festival in Boston on December 4th and 5th. 


 

Peace and Harmony Workshops are planned to be held between January 22nd and February 12th at Children's Art Carnival in New York City. Coincidentally, about 25 years ago, Robert Blackburn introduced me to Betty Blayton Taylor, the founder of the Children's Art Carnival. Robert Blackburn was the founder of the Robert Blackburn Printmaking Workshop. The first organization to collaborate on my Peace and Harmony project was the Robert Blackburn Printmaking Workshop. I felt that the legacy of the two founders have been passed down us. The circle of peace has been expanding. I update the details once the dates and times are decided.I look forward to your participation.


When I made my first Kusudama as a sample for the workshop, my memories of Japanese paper were all connected and became one shape. The process of transforming plain Japanese paper into colorful dyed Japanese paper, and then into flower origami, and finally into a medicine ball, made a strong impression on me. One of the purposes of these workshops was to see and feel these transformational changes now. 


This first Kusudama will be shown at the 39th Annual Wreath Interpretations Exhibition at the Arsenal Gallery in Central Park, from Wednesday December 1, 2021 – Thursday January 6, 2022.



"Extraction: Art on the Edge of the Abyss” Exhibition

Curators are Robin Dintiman, Holly Downing, and Catherine Devriese

Sebastopol Center for the Arts

October 23 through November 28, 2021

Saturday 10/23  1-3pm
Opening reception
Sunday 11/7  6pm
Rush Rheem of Stanford showing his film on “From Sopocles to Rachel Carson and beyond.”
Thursday 11/18  6:30-8pm
Native American drum and song group, poetry reading, Linda Lucille Day, David Holt, as well as several other panelists.


The exhibition is dealing with various environmental issues.  My work is on the theme of nuclear issues in Japan and the United States.


One of my goals is to hold exhibitions and festivals on environmental issues in New York City. I value the connections built in the workshops, and want to learn more about my local areas, in order to create healthier and safer communities with my neighbors.


Wednesday, August 25, 2021

Peace and Harmony


It is already late August. I feel signs of change and the end of summer, while dizzying information flies every day.


I got sick from COVID-19 at the end of March 2021. Since I had no underlying illness, I trusted my immune system to fix it without using any medicine. I was surprised to be advised to vaccinate, at the same time that a blood test confirmed that I had COVID-19 antibodies.


 After my recovery, when I visited Morningside Park in my neighborhood, there was a Statue of Liberty with her eyes closed, lying on the lawn. This is the current state of New York City. I moved here 25 years ago, in search of freedom.

Vaccine passports, which were ridiculed as conspiracy theories last year, are becoming a reality. Discrimination against non-vaccinated individuals has begun during the unusual promotion of vaccines.

Vaccines are free in New York and are readily available at drug stores and elsewhere. Moreover, vaccinated people are given various benefits, such as free tuition, or $100 for getting the first COVID-19 vaccination.

In Europe, including France, where the original Statue of Liberty is from, there are demonstrations that appeal for freedom, not only for non-vaccinated people, but also for vaccinated people. It's hard to win freedom, but it's easy to lose it. History tells us about persecution and concentration camps against: Jews by the Nazis, and against Japanese immigrants by the US during World War II.

My father, who has dementia, was hospitalized in May. Family visits to him were banned during COVID-19. The medicine he was given did not help him. His otherwise strong, healthy body rapidly deteriorated. He was separated from his family, stopped eating altogether, and his life was at stake. However, after my mother was granted a special once a week visit, my father started eating again. 

After being hospitalized for three months, my father was unable to walk and talk. Luckily, he improved enough that he was eventually able to leave the hospital on August 12th. Before my father was hospitalized, he told me to get along with my three sisters, and not forget about him. I pray for my father's recovery by making origami cranes.

Since last year when COVID-19 made it difficult for me to return to Japan, I folded Japanese paper into origami cranes, while thinking about my parents, and praying for a healthy and peaceful future in my apartment.  From that experience, the art project "Peace and Harmony" was born to help heal our divided minds and bodies.

This project was realized thanks to the support of the City Artist Corps Grants. I’ve been holding workshops on dyeing paper, folding paper into cranes and flowers, collecting them and connecting them with threads to make peace ornaments from August through September.

August 6th was the 76th anniversary of the world’s first atomic bombing, at Hiroshima. Coincidentally, on that day, my first “Peace & Harmony” workshop was held at Centro Civico Cultural Dominicano. I met the organizers from CCCD in west Harlem a few weeks ago, on July 16th. It was the anniversary of the world's first nuclear test, at the Trinity site in New Mexico, United States.


The radiation damage caused by atomic bombs is not only in Japan, but also in the United States, and everywhere. In this workshop, I also talked about radiation exposure in the United States itself, on Hiroshima Memorial Day.

One of the gems and charms of Japan, that I noticed when I moved to New York City, was Japanese paper. After that, I got a job using Japanese paper. I learned the process of making Japanese paper (washi) as an intern in my home prefecture of Tochigi, at the Karasuyama washi factory. Many challenges, realizations, and successes in making paper, are applicable to many other experiences in life. I share these experiences in my workshops. We have been enjoying: the supple, elastic, and natural feel of Japanese papers, and the conversation between the participants.

Because both radioactivity and COVID-19 are invisible, there’s a wide variety of conflicting information, misinformation, suspicion, and disagreement about health hazards. In an uncertain world, it is important to protect freedom of speech and human rights, exchange information freely, respect each other’s differences of opinions, and create a society that coexists with nature. 

The workshop "Peace and Harmony" provides participants with the opportunity to restore connections with others, communities, and ourselves. We’ll combine each participant’s individual ideas, into one unified artwork. 

Peace and Harmony 

FREE Japanese Paper Workshops, No prior experience needed. 

All ages are welcome. 

Online:


Robert Blackburn Printmaking Workshop


Japanese Paper Dyeing

Wednesday August 11, 6:30-8pm


Origami: Art of Paper Folding 

Wednesday August 18, 6:30-8pm


In-Person:


Centro Civico Cultural Dominicano 

619 W 145th St, New York, NY 10031 


Japanese Paper Dyeing

Thursday, August 5, 3pm-5pm 


Origami: Art of Paper Folding 

Friday August 6, 5pm-7pm 


Manhattanville Community Center

530 W 133rd St, New York, NY 10027


Japanese Paper Dyeing

Tuesday August 17, 2-5pm (children)

Thursday August 19, 10am-12pm (senior) 12:30-2:30pm(children)

Tuesday August 24, 10am-12pm (senior)


Origami: Art of Paper Folding 

Tuesday August 31, 10am-12pm (senior) 


First Quincy Street Community Garden

397-401 Quincy St. Bedford Stuyvesant, Brooklyn, NY 11221


Saturday August 28, 12-4pm 

Japanese Paper Dyeing

Origami: Art of Paper Folding 


Children's Art Carnival

62 Hamilton Terrace, New York NY 10031


Japanese Paper Dyeing

Saturday September 11, 1-3pm

Origami: Art of Paper Folding 

Saturday September 18, 1-3pm

Saturday October 2, 12:30-2:30pm ( Block Party)


Tenants Association

610 West 145th St. New York, NY 10031


Origami: Art of Paper Folding

Tuesday September 14, 6-7:30pm


No More Hibakusha 
for a future without nuclear weapons

COMMEMORATION Hiroshima and Nagasaki 2021


Sint Michiels Vredeskerk, Naamsestraat 57 a in Leuven, Belgium. 

Exhibition runs through the end of August.


When I visited Belgium in 2019, I wanted to connect with people involved in nuclear issues and peace activism. A friend introduced me to Yuko Matsubara, and I learned from her about peace activities in Leuven. Yuko introduced me to Ria Verjauw and we went to the Sint Michielskerk church. Ria Verjauw and I have a great friend in common, named Nydia Leaf, who is a New York City peace activist. We already have a peace circle and connections to each other. I hope this peace circle continues expanding.



Thursday, April 15, 2021

March memories


This March 11, 2021 was the 10th anniversary of the Fukushima nuclear disaster. Many events commemorated it. I participated in the annual Anti-Nuke Power Art exhibition, Peace Crane Ceremony rally in front of the Indian Point Nuclear Plants, and related online events. 


On March 11, last year, WHO declared COVID-19 a pandemic. New York was locked down after holding a memorial rally about Fukushima’s Nuclear Disaster in front of the midtown library. 



Yoshihiro Kaneda, from Fukushima, who was a writer and an anti-nuclear activist, died suddenly. His partner Mizuho told me that Yoshihiro had been active in anti-nuclear movements since he was a teenager. He visited Fukushima after 3.11, and continued to interview and write articles about nuclear damage. Recalling the time spent with them, we inherited Yoshihiro’s anti-nuclear activities, and held a commemorative rally for the victims of Fukushima. While reading the English translation of the comments from Japan, we conveyed the current situation in Fukushima. 



Since then, we have been in the midst of change. The treaty on non-proliferation of nuclear weapons scheduled for April was postponed. New York City has experienced many deaths, a declining population, and a resurgence of nature. 



I remembered the time of serious change that I experienced 10 years ago. A friend living in Japan who was worried about my family, informed me about the Great East Japan Earthquake. I knew the dangers of radiation, so I immediately thought of the Fukushima Nuclear Power plant. My family lived in the north of Tochigi prefecture, 100 km from the Fukushima Nuclear Plants. I started checking news and weather reports repeatedly. I still remember my desperate feelings when I knew the wind direction changed on March 14th. My hometown became covered with radiation, became a nuclear hotspot, and became a candidate for radioactive waste treatment facilities, simply because they have national forests. 



In the10 years since the Fukushima nuclear accident, the lies of the government and the media, and the devastating situation of the courts not functioning fairly, were revealed. The same is true not only in Japan, but also in the United States, and other countries. 



March 28th, 2021 was the 42nd anniversary of the Three Mile Island nuclear accident. In Spring, 2015 I met Mary Stamos. She has lived near the TMI nuclear plant since before the TMI accident. She has been studying the effects of radiation on human cancers and malformed plants in her residential area. I’ll never forget the shock of seeing deformed dandelions for the first time, at the place Mary took me to. 



The downplaying of the damage, and the hiding of information, about the Three Mile Island and Fukushima nuclear accidents, is strikingly similar. Their damage is still ongoing. Cherry blossoms were in bloom near the Three Mile Island nuclear power plant when I was there. The connections between the two countries' nuclear disasters blends into the beautiful landscape.


In order to protect ourselves and create the world we desire, we need to search for the truth from many sources of information, and face it in good faith. Hands-on experience and communication are essential for training our sensibilities and skills in selecting real information. We have lost direct experiences due to Covid 19 and are recovering it through our immersion in nature. In the cycles of nature, I feel the light of the future in the warm spring sunshine. A new cycle begins.

 

Exhibitions, events, projects


11th Anti-Nuke Power Art     


Thursday, March 11, 2021 — Sunday, June 27, 2021

Contact: Organizer Keiko Koshimitsu 

Phone:201 952 2617

Up to 4-5 people at a time with an appointment weekends only

A&G International Gallery

175 Maplewood Avenue   Bogota NJ 07603


Virtual Opening Reception:  Thursday, March 11, 2021 at 7 pm 

Guest speaker:

The earthquake Disaster area report by Shigeru Hanaoka,

The real fear of nuclear power plants by Shirou Ogura

Artist Talk


,

Under This Sky: Fukushima 311 Hamadori                                      

Digital Photograph                                                                             

On Hamadori in Fukushima, I remembered the enjoyable summer that I spent at the beach as a child, while looking at the desolate scenery, after the 311earthquake. Even four years after the Fukushima nuclear accident, a house destroyed by the tsunami, couldn’t be demolished, due to its high radioactivity. It remained as it was. Now, 10 years later, I wonder what's going on in that place, where time stopped March 11, 2011.



Under This Sky: Fukushima 311 Nuclear waste

Digital Photograph                                                                                

Everywhere, a landscape with tons of black, flexible container bags, filled with contaminated nuclear waste, were stacked in Fukushima’s disaster area. A worker from the Ranch of Hope, fed radioactive waste grass, to the exposed cattle without complying with the government slaughter order. The temporary response, to the enormous amount of nuclear waste, hasn’t changed, and the situation remains unsettled even after 10 years.


Traditional Peace Crane Ceremony

10th anniversary of the Fukushima nuclear disaster
Saturday, March 15th, 12pm at the gates of Indian Point 


Residents near the Indian Point nuclear power plant, which is the closest to New York City, have held their Fukushima nuclear accident memorial events in solidarity with Fukushima residents. The Indian Point’s last reactor shuts down permanently on April 30th. 


I participated in this Indian Point event. Residents around the nuclear power plants have suffered many years of health problems. I also learned that Mr. Fujishima, who I met  and photographed at a temporary housing facility in Fukushima, died of pancreatic cancer. A resident of Indian Point, who lost her partner to cancer, made a lot of paper cranes. May this prayer for health and peace come true.


In/Out – Light/Dark: Women in the Heights and Art in Our Time                 

Presented by the Northern Manhattan Arts Alliance.

Curator : Andrea Arroyo

Exhibition Online: March 15th

https://www.nomaanyc.org/virtual/women-in-the-heights-2021/

Online Opening:  March 18th, 7:30pm 

Online Artist Talk: April 1st, 7:30pm


Lucifer

Digital Photograph

My days of internal dialogue in my apartment, and in nearby parks surrounded by nature, gave me awareness of my life, while experiencing Covid 19 rules: lockdown, social distancing, and wearing masks. In the natural cycle of life, under the sunlight, one lives with death and rebirth. "The darkest hour is always just before the dawn." Lucifer is a Latin word meaning "stars shining at dawn" and "a person who brings light”. We are all living in the present, and are illuminating the future, as beings of light. We know there is light, because there is darkness.


West Harlem Arts: Resilience 2021


Presented by Children's Art Carnival 

Exhibition Online: Thursday April 8 - Saturday May 22

https://westharlemarts.org

Online Opening: Saturday April 10th, 4pm 


In the wake of the devastating COVID-19 pandemic, the organizations joined forces to organize and present a virtual exhibition series celebrating the resilience of local artists from West Harlem and the surrounding community. 



Resilience

The information turmoil caused by the COVID-19 pandemic has made the divisions between this country’s people clearer. Looking back on what I learned from living in the United States as a Japanese person, I thought about what I could do in this community in nature and the park. West Harlem has a historic site associated with the Manhattan Project, which developed the atomic bomb. I would like to work with local artists to provide peace education that conveys what Japan has learned from Hiroshima, Nagasaki, and Fukushima, which have experienced nuclear disasters. Learning from past nuclear development events and leading a peaceful world is a manifestation of my resilience in this community.


Recording and shooting by Wakako Koda

Virtual Choir LOOK UP AT THE SKY "Sukiyaki" 

https://youtu.be/plZ4txPUR6c


“On March 11th ten years ago, people’s lives and the most precious things were taken away suddenly, and we were flooded with sorrow. And the sentiment still lingers… Similarly, people in the world are overwhelmed with sorrow and anger, caused by disasters and conflicts. We wish for smiles, because they open our minds even in those circumstances. That’s why we smile. Human beings are born to have a smile. Let’s keep smiling. If we smile, the world will smile too. We’d love to smile and be lightened up together. So we will sing together.” 


During the lockdown, I wanted to sing. Wakako has been working on “Sing for Smile” project”. “Look up at the sky” is a song I have special memories of. Without losing hope, it reminds us that living in the present leads to a happy future. Thank you for this timely project!