Yoshiko Shimano – bio

Japanese born Yoshiko Shimano’s work has been exhibited extensively in Canada, Europe, Japan and the United States. She received her B.F.A. degree from California College of the Arts and M.F.A. degree from Mills College in Oakland, California. Shimano has completed many outreach projects with her students locally and internationally through the Department of Art at the University of New Mexico.

Working on a grand scale, printmaker Yoshiko Shimano challenges to transform the paper so it no longer speaks as “paper”, but has a density of physical presence that is one with its imagery. By using many different printmaking marks, she wishes to unify existing mediums and layers into a seamless language. Her work invites its audience to enter a seemingly infinite and paradoxically intimate space. Hung in one space large- scale prints become installations or environmental works, which interact with the architecture and create own atmosphere. She likes the possibility of the work “breathing” in its specific environment. Because much of her work is inspired by nature and the affirming power of the life force, there is a sense of luminous light emanating from the darkness in many of Shimano’s over-scaled works. Many of her work are her prayers for things she doesn’t have control over, but feels responsibilities toward as one living in this world.

Artist Statement

I am moved when human beings continue to live with pride and hope even under difficult circumstances like wars, natural disasters, poverty, or discrimination in its many different aspects toward minority groups. Other circumstances beyond the control of our individual abilities or wisdom include loss of health and the death of loved ones. The beauty that can come from vanity, uncertainty, fragility, sadness, and the weakness of being a human touches me. Simultaneously, I find the energy, creativity, wit, humor, and love that human beings can bring to these circumstances encouraging. My work has been trying to express these beautiful moments of being a human.

“SADAKO’S DIARY”s are based on the story of Sadako Sasaki, a Hiroshima atomic bombing survivor who hoped that her leukemia would be cured once she had folded one thousand paper cranes. I share the same prayer as her for peace and a world without nuclear weapons, and that countries don’t use the power of nuclear weapons as a deterrent for self-defense. I folded the printing paper to make a paper crane, opened it, and then printed the images and colors. The colors were based on the testimony of people who witnessed the atomic bomb in Hiroshima.

I dedicated my prayers and hopes to victims and survivors of the Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami that occurred in 2011 in my works, “REQUIEM FOR 3-11- 2011”, “FOR WOMEN ON 3-11-2011”, and “FOR CHILDREN ON 3-11-2011”. 19,418 lives were taken away and 2562 families are still looking for their missing family members. Incidents such as this natural disaster that can end our ordinary lives in an instance reminds me of how precious my everyday life is and the importance to live each day sincerely.

As a daughter of a father who passed away twenty years ago after three years of cancer treatment, it is my wish that my work will ease the feeling of the people who are spending time in the New Mexico Cancer Center. I hope that my work will be a spiritual accompaniment for the patients, their family, and staff.