Artist’s Statement Kikuko Morimoto
My Journey as an Artist
I came into this life with a question: “Why am I here?” “What am I, really?”
This existential question arose when I was four. Beset by such an answerless question, I was swept up into the storm of life. I found myself in the unwinnable war of self versus the world. In the years that followed, I tried to become someone, tried to prove my worth. The question was forgotten.
I took up painting with the vague but intuitive feeling that this was the way forward.
In my early attempts, I tried to express my raw emotions, the things at the core of my being. At this time, my painting was muddled. It was messy. Despite its immaturity, my painting nourished me. Painting healed, I learned.
Unsatisfied, but with the sense that the voice that needed to emerge would one day emerge, I kept painting. I painted and I painted and I painted. Then one day it was my immense fortune to meet the teacher I most needed to meet: Bruce Dorfman at the Art Students League of New York. Bruce looked at my paintings. He considered them carefully. Then he made the oddest, the most startling suggestion: he said I should paint only in blue, paint in blue and on the biggest canvases I could find. In my work, he had determined I was in love with blue.
I was fascinated by his suggestion. For the next year, I painted only in blue. I immersed myself in it; I lost myself in blue. It was through this work that I developed my intimacy with colour. Somehow, somewhere within the middle of this period I lost myself, lost my small self. My limited personal self disappeared and I found myself painting within a deeper more extraordinary place. Painting became meditation. I learned to both lose and gain myself through painting. My childhood dilemma evaporated: separation, isolation, the deeply troubling sense of me vs world dissolved. Through my art, I had merged with the world. I came to experience a harmony that I had never known before.
One day I found myself painting an installation piece for the Brooklyn Zen Center. It was then that a strange thing happened. The project became sacred. I experienced the profound urge to devote myself, to enter and offer myself to the sacred. I felt I understood how it was that Michelangelo might have felt when he painted the Sistine Chapel. This work had become devotional; it had connected me with the spirit of the masters. I know now that my art cannot be born in the absence of the sacred. For me, now, the act of painting is sacred.
My work is an extension of this artistic allegiance to the sacred. When through the act of viewing my work my audience is able to engage and enter the sacred space in which it was born, I feel that my art is doing its job. I am happy. The question has been addressed.
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