|I first experienced New York City without being able to speak. Coming from Japan, I felt the language and culture were barriers, and it was as though I had a communication disability. Street art broke that wall for me. In the media studies, I agreed with Marshall McLuhan’s idea that media is an extension of the body: street art is my media and the extension of my body that enables me to communicate with the city; it is my language.|
I first experienced New York City without being able to speak. Coming from Japan, I felt the language and culture were barriers, and it was as though I had a communication disability. Street art broke that wall for me. In the media studies, I agreed with Marshall McLuhan’s idea that media is an extension of the body: street art is my media and the extension of my body that enables me to communicate with the city; it is my language.
I remember my first unauthorized act involving public space was in Tokyo in the early 90s. With a friend’s help to figure out the transmission, I broadcasted a TV channel that people within a few miles of my college could see. It showed my short films and other flicks that I liked. The bootleg broadcasts got local media’s coverage, and shortly after the article I received a letter from the Japanese government stating that I had to stop; it was illegal.
The fantasy of reaching random people to communicate my ideas took a new form in New York. My first street art experience was wheat-pasting my self-portrait naked all around Lower Manhattan. Even though I was arrested and spent the night in jail, the dialogue continued as I went back to each wall, to add to the pieces, to see other people’s responses and the way the art had been weathered in layers. I felt comfortable through this conversation; I found my passion, and New York City became my best friend.
Physical activity is an important part of my work. To project strong art with a positive message in public, I realized that I need to maintain a strong core in body and spirit. I stopped thinking about negative things when I started to focus on my own self and sexuality. My paintings started to speak more vividly, sexily, about love and life, eros, as well as everyday emotions and memories.
Looking at beauty is better than looking at sadness. There is so much sadness in the world already. My paintings are abstract stories based on found images and photographs I’ve taken. My art conveys universal themes and emotions that people can share and respond to with their own fantasies, flashbacks, or experiences.
The human body is something I’m really interested in because it’s the only thing that I own and I have control of—it’s the one thing that stays with us through our lives—and for me, the female body is the most beautiful form. I enjoy femininity, and I feel there is so much positive energy in discovering the beauty every woman has.
Nowadays, to communicate by using female bodies as sculpture, I use actual women and make them perform as if the beautiful butterfly girls came alive from my paintings. For me these are the ultimate pieces of art that cannot be bought or sold. Each of us is a unique individual, like a beautiful butterfly. My butterfly ladies are a symbol of the idea that we are part of nature. I think we need to recognize that on this planet we are part of the same family, with all its different shades. I celebrate life and sexuality in my art, and I feel that in my exploration these past ten years I’ve made a big circle: I put images of myself on walls, and now I want to bring the images that I’ve created back into reality, in my own body.