Paintings and Drawings

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My Work

My Grandmother Noe Miki. Acrylic on Canvass 30" x 40" 1984
My Grandmother Noe Miki. Acrylic on Canvass 30″ x 40″ 1983

I spent the first four years of my life in Japan. We lived with my grandmother in a traditional Japanese house in Kobe. My grandmother was the first person who encouraged me to draw. It is my first memory. She put paper down for me on the table, but I always wanted more space. So she put paper down for me on the floor. Soon I was going over the edge of the paper onto the tatami mat. So she taped paper on the walls, all around the room. I could never master the art of staying on the paper. I always wanted to go beyond the edges. Soon the walls were covered in colors and shapes. I never knew anyone who was so loving, so willing to let me explore beyond the boundaries. She set a theme for my life. I painted this picture of her just before she died, on a trip I made back home to Japan in 1982.

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I dreamed that I was walking down a narrow street. On the sidewalk was a long shadow, like a tree, extending for what seemed forever. But there was no tree in sight. I had a sense that it was the time-line of my life. I started to run along the length of this mysterious shadow. As I did, I felt all the losses and victories of my life, so many that it was impossible to count. It was as if life had turned into a torrent of memories, past and future indistinguishable from each other. I could see that there was an end to the timeline, and as I drew nearer to it, I felt a deep sense of peace. Just as I reached what I though would be the end of my time in this life, I burst through into something enormous and beautiful, as if some great change was coming, into the world and into my life. Even now, as I reflect on this dream, I am filled with a sense of indescribable happiness.

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I was walking through a retrospective show of post-war Japanese painting and installation art. A telephone on a table started to ring. It wasn’t clear whether the phone was an installation or part of the gallery. I picked it up, I heard a sweet, soft voice say, “Hello.” “Hello,” I replied. “This is Yoko,” said the voice on the phone. We talked for half an hour. She asked me about my dreams, and I asked her about hers. We made word-art together that day. Imagine!