About Yoko "Tenyoh" Sugawara
It is difficult to illustrate human complexities artistically. However, I believe the messages that my art conveys are indispensable to society. Our humanity cannot grow without opportunities to reflect upon ourselves. Art is my vehicle to communicate that.
My former occupation as an international health-care worker provided me with opportunities to associate with people with diverse backgrounds. The hands-on experience taught me that emotional commonalities were more striking than our differences. I believe this is true between individuals, across different cultures, and throughout human history. Therefore, my art does not represent any particular group of people. It depicts human nature collectively, capturing both strength and weakness that may co-exist in the same heart. Empathy that I cultivated as a nurse helps me perceive situations with deeper understanding. New concepts for my creations often emerge through these perceptions and insights. Even though my choice of art media has shifted from oil painting to ceramic sculpting, the central theme has remained unchanged.
My art mirrors the complexity of the human condition. It is my invitation to the viewer to take a journey of self-reflection.
Historically, comparatively few artists have successfully achieved the skill to express subtle variations of emotion. Yet, this is the key to reaching the viewer’s heart. I have made significant improvement in this skill, and the next few years will be devoted to furthering it, so that my art may communicate with the viewer at the deepest levels.
With that goal in mind, I have created a series of busts portraying human resilience. Their expressions honor ordinary people whose unwavering perseverance has brought positive changes to history. Recreating their irrepressible spirit through this project, I wish to instill a seed of hope for the future course of humanity.
My Japanese Artist Name
Tenyoh, inherited from my family, means an ocean looking down from a mountaintop. My name carries boundless possibilities.