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Please introduce yourself and tell us about what you do.

Hi! My name is Makiko and I’m a multidisciplinary artist living and working between London and San Francisco. I make paintings, sculptures, installations, and sound work related to contemporary femininity, cultural inheritance, and hybrid identities.

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Could you explain more about how being a woman has affected your career?

In my practice I frequently make work with a feminist stance. For example, in my Needle Series of sculptures, I explore the complex and often contradictory aspects of femininity. The sculptures are enlarged replicas of my Japanese grandmother's sewing and knitting needles, reimagined in powder-coated steel and brass. Some of the needle sculptures are 6 feet tall. When growing up, I watched my obaachan (grandmother in Japanese) sew, knit, and crochet as a way to express her creativity and voice – her agency. I reimagined the tools of a traditionally feminine handicraft by enlarging them into hefty weaponlike sculptures. These ‘tools of agency’ intend to express the heaviness often experienced in performing femininity, specifically within the realm of power struggles surrounding domestic labour. The work is both a critique of patriarchy and also a provocation - imagining a world where traditionally feminine expression becomes not only powerful, but perhaps also violent. In conjunction with the series of sculptures, I am currently developing a performance concept in collaboration with dancers to knit their bodies with the sculptures.

Beyond my own practice, I am aware of the gender imbalances in representation and acknowledgement in the art world. I am doing my part by working to create opportunity and community. My first project towards this is co-curating a group show of women and nonbinary artists working in abstraction in the Bay Area, California, opening March 2024. California has a deep history of abstraction and it’s more important than ever to highlight how contemporary woman artists are contributing to the conversation and continuing (or reimagining) the tradition. Our roster is seriously star-studded, and I can’t wait to share this exhibition with the public!

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Makiko is wearing LESLEA shirt.

Can you name some other female (artist) that inspires you and explain why they do so?

There are so many! Contemporary women artists that are an inspiration include Hannah Levy, Donna Huanca, and Monica Bonvicini to name a few. Historically, I take inspiration from the women of postwar America who changed the trajectory of abstract painting: Lee Krasner, Elaine de Kooning, Grace Hartigan, Joan Mitchell, and Helen Frankenthaler. They did not settle for being muses, they were artists.

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Makiko is wearing LARUSSA knit

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What has been the most challenging aspect of being a woman in the arts?

To be honest, I think this is something I’ll only be able to see clearly in hindsight. So for now, I try not to worry about it too much, and just focus on my work

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What would you like people to notice in your artwork?

There are many metaphors in my work, and I hope these spark curiosity and connection with the viewers. The chains, the kimono, the cage, the color red. All of these are an intentional exploration of my psychic landscape, my heritage, what I observe in the world around me, and philosophies about selfhood and feminism. At the same time, I try not to be too controlling about how people perceive my work. I focus on the research and the making, and once the work is out in the world, I do my best to surrender and let it go.

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Photography by: Ben Pipe