Gabriel Bizen Akagawa artist statement
My artistic practice is an exploration of art as medicine. Art is a tool to question how we use and abuse our minds, bodies and environments. I look for the profound in mundane experience to elevate its status and one’s attention to the moment. I build a bench to initiate the act of sitting and meditation, present an o-mi-yage, or gift, like a bronze acorn, to celebrate the meeting and in exchange for a story about a tree, or give a massage to encourage relaxation and physical awareness. My artwork promotes awareness of the art in life. I learned this from my family, both here and in Japan. My Oba-chan and Ojii-chan were barbers and taught their daughter and her husband the art of a practical haircut and massage. My great-uncle was a lantern maker, and my ancestors were sword-smiths to Samurai. My uncle is a businessman who incorporates green technology into his designs for water filtration. My mother, a German-Minnesotan, is trained as a painter and designs and plans gardens. I draw from the mundane artistry of my family to bring cross-cultural exchanges through community-centered sculpture, installation and performance. I use traditional and contemporary ideas of both the US and Japan to manifest our connectedness. I see art as an opportunity for actions of caring, compassion and attention to health.