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Featured | Kumiko Kawasaki

Kumiko Kawasaki is an artist who expresses water through tapestries, weaving in themes of life and the Western Pure Land that lies at its end. Born and based in Niigata, she spends much of her time gazing at the Sea of Japan from places like Teruhaku, Mase, and Echizenhama. While the sun rises in the east for Japanese people, Niigata’s sea is to the west, facing the Western Pure Land. In Eastern philosophy, peace and heaven are always to the west. Even at the end of the turbulent Niigata sea, there is silence and peace. "The flow of water is like life, and the shape of waves is like human society," she says, adding that by meticulously weaving these aspects of life, one can confront and understand oneself.

Like the flow of the sea, human history flows. Kawasaki, while gazing at the sea, lets the flow of human society merge with it. "As Time Goes By" (2017) captures the waves of the Sea of Japan in her mind and weaves them into a tapestry. By not resisting the flow of time and allowing herself to be carried by the waves, what remains is a solid sense of self.

In the area where Kawasaki lives, there is Yahiko Shrine. It enshrines Amenokaguyama-no-mikoto, the great-grandson of the sun goddess Amaterasu, and was founded over 2,400 years ago at the foot of Mount Yahiko. The sea visible from this ancient shrine, which evokes a sense of timelessness, is endlessly beautiful, and Kawasaki feels that "we live on a water planet." This realization led to the creation of "Water Planet" (2018), a work expressing the earth as seen from the perspective of the deity Amenokaguyama-no-mikoto, reflecting Kawasaki's deep love for the planet.

In Japan, there is a method of spiritual training where one recites sutras while being struck by a waterfall. In the cold of winter, the harshness of the waterfall leaves no room for distracting thoughts, allowing for spiritual concentration. "Mind Waterfall" (2019-2020) represents the three seals of Buddhism: "All things are impermanent" (everything changes and nothing lasts), "All things are without self" (nothing possesses an unchanging essence), and "Nirvana is tranquility" (the state of enlightenment free from delusion is peaceful). Kawasaki wove 13 threads into one, and its grand scale and impact suggest that she wove life itself into it.

Born in 1956, Kawasaki is an artist based in Niigata who specializes in weaving art. Her works have been showcased in solo exhibitions in Japan and India, including the International Textile Retreat, India (2024), Northern Cultural Museum, Niigata (2013), Gallery Yoin, Niigata (2015), Chusoku Museum, Niigata (2016, 2023), Art Gallery Bandaijima, Niigata (2016), Yahikonooka Museum, Niigata (2017), Striped House Gallery, Tokyo (2019), Jiro Oyama Collection Museum, Niigata (2021) and Mitsukoshi, Aichi (2022). She is an associate member of 'Nitten,' Japan's most prestigious open call art exhibition, founded in 1907. Kawasaki graduated from the Textile and Dyeing Course at Kyoto University of Art and Design in 2006.
- JC

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