"Exhibiting You" - Story

International Citizen Creates

By: MarieKaz
Submitted: 01/25/2009

From girlhood on I consciously collected experiences, avoiding what I considered the materialism of collecting objects/things (noticing that many artists collect physical things that somehow relate to their art making). My collecting occurred over a longer period of time in the American cities of Toledo, Ohio and San Francisco, California until starkly different experiences intersected while living in Asian cities where I openly allowed my American-ness to merge with Eastern ways and understandings.

I was born in Toledo, Ohio and recieved a Bachelor of Fines Arts degree from the California College of Arts in the San Francisco bay area. I then studied Japanese at a private language school in Tokyo. There I practiced speaking, reading and writing Japanese kanji, hiragana and katakana characters. Hiragana and katakana are the more modern simplified characters most often used on the many large neon signs in the urban centers of Tokyo.

I also traveled, lived and taught in India for one full year, then moved to Hong Kong and enrolled in a Mandarin language course at the Chinese University. I studied conversation, reading, and writing Chinese characters. Being able to read hundreds of the most common Chinese characters made it easier for me when I traveled by train through mainland China (the Peoples Republic of China, PRC) to Beijing, then down to Shanghai, and back to Hong Kong. During my one month stay in Taipei, Taiwan (the Republic of China, ROC) I was able to read street signs, shop signs and advertisements in Chinese throughout my travels there.

My artwork contains variations on various aspects of characters from the written Chinese, Korean, Japanese, Hindi Sanskrit and other languages, revealing an aspect of the beauty of each shape and structure. Becoming more like symbols than meaning of words.  The oversized dominant forms of Japanese language characters in Tokyo street signs, as identification or to advertise a product, have held their strong impact on me in conjunction English lettering. The product imagery in advertisements and on large American billboards, and with the Chinese calligraphic characters I enlarge and abstract by combining, reversing, overlapping, filling, fragmenting and distorting.

Now, as returned ex-patriot, the color influences of Japan, India and China and the forms of the written characters of the languages of these countries, (as well as Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, and South Korea which I visited for shorter periods) reemerge in their new abstracted and combined forms. They are conjoined with the English letters of my native language, with overlays of color to obtain the translucency, transparency, or opacity of the drawn stroke visualized before I begin. 

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