Saturday, March 28, 2009

Art Space Talk: Janice Nakashima

Janice Nakashima was born and raised in Northern California. She is a third generation of Japanese descent or sansei. Nakashima’s art is meditative and introspective. However, she is also concerned with humanitarian and social issues. Her paintings often explore notions of place and belonging. Nakashima has been involved with exhibits at the Haggin Museum, Triton Museum of Art, and the Crocker Art Museum.

In one series of paintings Nakashima explored the idea of home on various levels. This works explored the idea of home within ourselves, within our communities, and upon this earth-- the universal aspects of ‘home‘. Nakashima’s installation ‘Far from Home, is an expression of the plight of refugees in camps all over the world. The double cages of seven camp details are from camp images from all over the world. Refugees live in a kind of double prison—both physical and political. Many have no hope of returning to their homes and remain dependent on aid organizations.

Far from Home by Janice Nakashima

Brian Sherwin: Janice, what can you tell us about your academic background concerning art? Did you study art formally? Tell us about your art studies in general-- any influential instructors?

Janice Nakashima: After teaching school for a few years, I went Claremont Graduate University and studied art, receiving an MFA in 1979. The most important part of that experience was the freedom and encouragement to explore that was emphasized. It helped me experience what being an artist was about.

BS: Give our readers some insight into the thoughts behind your art…

JN: My work is a kind of a confluence of my response to the outer world whether nature, social, etc. and my interior world of feelings.

Far from Home detail (Baghdad) by Janice Nakashima

BS: Janice, can you discuss your process in general? Are there any specific techniques that you utilize?

JN: I work very intuitively, sometimes without knowing what the work will be about and a conversation begins that carries through the work. Occasionally I'll begin with a clear idea that I see in my mind.

BS: Janice, is there a specific message you strive to convey to viewers? Do you adhere to a specific philosophy as far as your work is concerned?

JN: Each piece has its own experience that I try to convey rather than a specific message. That is a broad statement. The installation/s that I have done do have a specific humanitarian message--mainly to bring an issue to light. I don't have a didactic message. So for the "Far From Home" installation, I was merely putting out for consideration the plight of refugees in many countries.

Far from Home detail (Darfur) by Janice Nakashima

BS: What are you working on at this time?

JN: I am working on a series of watercolor paintings and a collaborative installation.

BS: What are your thoughts concerning the internet and utilizing the World Wide Web in order to gain exposure for your art? In your opinion, why is it important for artists to embrace the internet?

JN: The internet is an amazing tool and has given us incredible access to art and everything else. I hope it helps in getting exposure to art to folks. I do feel the inner-person experience is still essential because art has a real visceral presence and the scale actual piece needs to be there in real life for it to be accurately experienced. But--the internet can help get interest in the art.

BS: Will you be involved with any upcoming exhibits?

JN: Yes, I have a solo exhibit in May at Axis Gallery Sacramento.
Ecoute Moi by Janice Nakashima

BS: There has been several stories involving copyright infringement in the mainstream press as of late. What is your stance on copyright? Do you see strong copyright as a reflection of artist rights in general? Or do you feel that copyright restricts creativity? Do you have a stance on this issue?

JN: Copyright should definitely be given to the artist for the life of the art or the artist can choose to give it up. But it should be the artist's choice.

Phases by Janice Nakashima

BS: Finally, is there anything else you would like to say about your art?

JN: As most artists probably hope--I do hope my work is something that is of value to the viewer and can communicate something that is intangible and positive in their life.
You can learn more about Janice Nakashima by visiting her website-- You can read more of my interviews by visiting the following page--
Take care, Stay true,
Brian Sherwin
Senior Editor
New York Art Exchange
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