Nanao Tsukuda is a contemporary artist based in Kyoto, Japan. Her research-based work translates the everyday lives of her subjects into constellations of drawings and sculptures, commonly utilizing both ceramics and found material. With a craft-oriented foundation in ceramics, Tsukuda began applying her research method of creating work during graduate school while staying in countries outside of her native Japan.
The starting point of the research is simple orientation as a “stranger” in places which are unfamiliar to her. Tsukuda attempts to recognize each place from the subjectivity she has built up through her own environment, and compare the difference. However, to compare is not the final purpose, instead it is a means to familiarize herself with the customs and people of the given location. Tsukuda’s focus is on an individual’s living environment – for the artist, the minutiae of housing, furniture, daily tools, and living rhythms hold the potential for communicating more overarching ideas about human experience.
Tsukuda often interviews locals, collecting episodes of personal history, traditions, and the language used to explain their lives. In addition, the shapes, colors, and objects from the living environments are imitated using ceramics and manipulated found material, with the details of the subject’s stories guiding the form of the work.
The process of combining and transforming information is important for making familiar things uncanny, in order to cause a subtle sense of discomfort. Tsukuda looks to create an opportunity for viewers to contemplate their own living environment and habits.
Whether the source of the work stems from a place which is completely foreign or familiar to the artist, her belief is that each person has a story rooted in personal and cultural context that can be explored. These stories can become a guide for anyone searching for new viewpoints on daily living. Tsukuda attempts to “translate” these private but illuminating objects and histories into artwork that can be seen and experienced by anyone.