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by Elly Minagawa

Acrylic on canvas - 22" x 28" (2021)
Inserting my art practice into the relationship between objects and symbolism by means of painting and printmaking has been the most fruitful in articulating the dissonance within my identity as a Japanese-American. Working with Japanese objects that carry cultural and spiritual significance that I have been unaware of for most of my life, largely due to being raised in a stringent evangelical Christian environment, has given me the space to start an internal conversation that begins to reconcile my hyphenated-identity. These specific dolls, the Hina and Kokeshi, all to a certain extent are expressions of beliefs, or bunshin, that act as body substitutes for their owner. These dolls are mediators between the divine and its subjects and exist in a space that isn’t clearly or fully defined. By airbrushing these dolls in confusing and diffused compositions I am giving my feelings of desperation, uncertainty, and obsession in regards to my identity to the dolls so they can act as my bunshin. The Day-Glo color palette alludes to the naivety of childhood and also acts as a bold reclamation of the culture that I do not feel I wholly belong to at times. By distorting these dolls within my paintings I am interested in creating a visual language in which dissonance and color are the vernacular of remembrance and contemplation.