02.02.23 Plant People
Photo by William Jess Laird ▪

Growing up between the Pacific Northwest and Japan, what were your formative experiences of nature like? Do you have early plant memories or encounters that have shaped your sensibility?

I would say I was granted vastly different experiences. One being an extreme city kid life and another being time in the most stunning presence of nature. I adore moss, which thrives on the peninsula in Washington State and is obviously significant all over Japan. I feel very connected to the ocean. We spent time on the Oregon coast every year with the Pacific Ocean as our backyard and growing up partially in Tokyo and having spent time all over Japan, it is impossible to not have a relationship with water. Though I live in NYC and wouldn’t trade it for anything, nature has always brought me perspective and calm - it is absolutely crucial.

What has your experience living in the US and abroad taught you about the different cultural norms guiding human relationships with plants?

I think wherever we reside, our disembodiment is proportional to the amount we take plant life and nature for granted, dismiss, reject and destroy it.

After working in photography and performance, what drew you to the tactile, tangible focus of your current practice?

Embodiment. Over time I’ve been able to find a practice where the day to day making is not only directly working with my hands, but the process itself fosters a continual return to the present moment. It challenges me endlessly.

When did you first start experimenting with natural dyes? What was the learning curve like?

I first started learning and incorporating natural dye into my work in 2019. I had a wonderful teacher, Isa Rodrigues, who is now a friend ! Because I got a great foundation from her, I’ve been able to ask a lot of questions, which is both what I love to do most and the way I learn best.

Japanese noren have been central in your work lately. Are there Jewish textile traditions that you draw from? Besides your own cultural heritage, what sources of inspiration have you been looking to recently?

I actually have been reading this book on Ashkenazi herbalism that was recommended to me by an ethnobotanist who I had a wonderful conversation with. I am of course interested to learn if any of the plants used for healing also have the ability to make color. I continue to be interested in folklore and myth as it pertains to the plants I use for dye and the symbolic complexities held in each material.  I am endlessly in love with dance. I grew up street style dancing, but really so many forms - house, salsa, ballet, flamenco - all have a special place in my heart. I’ve begun exploring dance as an inspiration for my textile work.

How do you think about sustainability and waste in your art practice?

I think rather than growth mentality i.e. how big can I make the studio, how much work can I make, how many commissions can I take on, how many projects can I do - I’m striving to be on a path of how deep can I go ? How can I sustainably work in a way that allows things to take time and bring into the world with integrity.

How do you stay connected to nature living in a big city?

It’s hard ! I’m working on getting my driver’s license.

I am particularly drawn to this piece of yours. The interplay between textures and the tension between the flat surface and the almost wet-seeming cloth is so charged. Could you talk a little bit about how it came to be?

I started making work like this last year leading up to a show I had in the summer, where I presented three large wall works in this manner. I was contemplating movement both inspired by dance and calligraphy juxtaposed with the boundary of a 2D form. The fixed nature is interesting because I associate so much of textile and specifically silk, the primary material in this work, with movement. I’ve just started this work and I’m excited to continue it.