This body of prints reflects how I have interacted with the Japanese language at different stages of my life. Studying Japanese as an English-speaking American has granted me a unique perspective. Whether I am mesmerized by the language or become vexed during my journey to learn it, these experiences are what I find important to express within my work.
My first introduction to the language was through the Japanese trading cards my sister and I collected as children, as seen in Childhood Fascination. Although I could not read anything on the cards, I became fascinated by the various shapes I saw that formed the Japanese symbols. These symbols, or at least parts of them, are the inspirations for the block-like shapes in these pieces. They were manipulated and shuffled into various sequences by deconstructing them into simpler shapes.
Beginning in Jumble I, my mature self is represented through muted colors that intermingle with the bright colors which constitute the wonderment I felt towards the Japanese language as a child. Over time, I have gained more advanced knowledge of the language while also facing struggles with it. Kanji, the borrowed Chinese symbols, can be challenging to learn due to their complexity and the vast uniqueness that constructs each of them. My college professors taught me how to find imagery within kanji as they are logograms that often contain images of what they represent. This concept can be seen in Confusion I and II through the abstract forms created from calligraphic marks that mimic the stroke patterns found within kanji.
As I continue to study the language, the shapes I used to see as abstract structures gradually become more distinguishable symbols. Through time I have come to recognize these as having specific functions and meanings. In Fortifying Vocabulary and Ascending Words, simpler symbols begin to converge together to form more complicated kanji like 作, meaning “production” or “to make” and 言, meaning “words” or “to say.” Although I do not have a complete comprehension of Japanese, I can build off of what I have learned as I continue this process of learning.