Thursday, July 8, 2010

The Show Looks Great!

Opening Reception:

Saturday, July 17, 2:00-5:00pm with guided tour by the artists

July 10, 2010 - Aug 22, 2010 @ Gendai Gallery at JCCC

Japanese Canadian Cultural Centre
6 Garamond Court, Toronto, Ontario
(North of Eglinton, East of Don Mills Road)

Take Flemingdon Park bus #100 from Eglinton Station or Broadview Station.

Map and directions:

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Nokorimono ni wa sachi kitaru (by seema)

Up until now I had constructed about 7 pieces of work and was going for a total of 10 pieces, when looking at the 7 already completed pieces, they felt a bit rigid or stiff and weren't having the intended impact or general feel that I wanted.

(I would've made a light for each piece)

So I played around with the components of the sculptures, piling them up, to create one larger piece. This incarnation of my work feels more organic, and to me still connects to my muse of anthills, and giant termite mounds with regards to its' basic form and shape. I will be continuing to add more containers, and about 2-3 more lights. The installation will be 8'x 8'x 3'.

I've named my work after a modification of a Japanese proverb (
残り物には福がある -nokorimono ni wa fuku ga aru -luck is in the leftovers), with relation to the idea of the containers holding leftovers, remnants of home, and the idea of the container allowing one to transport parts of home elsewhere to enjoy. Bringing the nostalgia of home and happiness in the enjoyment of the food in the container.

"残り物には幸来たる(nokorimono ni wa sachi kitaru)
Leftovers Will Bring You Happiness"

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Workshop with the Wynford Seniors (Aleks)

This post is a little late; delayed by the chaos surrounding my opening the day following the workshop. June 2 Siya and I went up to the JCC to conduct a workshop with the Wynford seniors who meet there on a regular basis. In between their scheduled activities we gave a little talk about the theme of our exhibition, the collective etc. Then we went out and spoke with the seniors about what "home" means to them. Is it a fixed place or something they carry with them; is it somewhere they can go back to or is it where they live?
The first issue that came up was that many of these people, despite being born in Canada had been through the internment camps in the second world war.

A man named Frank generously spent some time telling us stories about growing up in Vancouver but being forcibly re-settled to Ontario in his late teens. To him, Vancouver is a city he knew like the back of his hand, yet he would never go back to live there because it is too painful. Home to him is now Toronto. He tells of people being shipped east and their property sold by the Canadian government. At least the Japanese in the United States could go back to their homes after the war ended; Japanese in Canada were not so lucky: boats, cars, houses were taken away. Later, they were compensated for a small fraction of their value. Frank is lucky in that most of his siblings are in Ontario as well; he has made a home here with his family.
The stories went on but the common theme which seemed to emerge was that home is where your loved ones are; or for many of these seniors home is a place you keep warm hoping your loved ones will visit.

Also had a nice chat with Ray Charles White's mom Vicky. For her, home is a place she creates now in a condo with her personal antique and art collection.
Many of the seniors now live in condos; they talk about home as a place in the past, a house in which they no longer live. Few of them thought of Japan as home.

Siya's favorite response came from the son of one of the seniors: "Home is where work opportunity presents..." which is something that had never occurred to her. It is a reality for many, making a place a home because work is there.

Just for fun we joined in on a game of bingo.

How cool are these retro bingo cards?!

Pics with me in them taken by Siya. For more:
Pic+ Video:
Watch the videos of Frank talking, many issues about being Japanese living in Canada during the war and of being in the Canadian army fighting against his own people; fascinating. Thanks Siya for recording this and for joining me that day.

This workshop brought many issues to light for me and when I returned to my paintings afterward I found myself thinking about the personal stories; mine and theirs, and how that could enter my work. My paintings for this exhibition had up to this point been concerned with very abstract pseudo scientific concepts I think now they will reflect a more personal experience of home.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Making Mountains Out of Hills (by Seema)

On a recent trip to India, when looking out onto the dry country side of Bangalore, mounds of hills, home to many termites were abound. They reminded me of the images of ant hills, which I had been thinking of in my musing for my plastic container sculptures. The hills were actually huge, and gave me some more food for thought for my creations.

Swimming in Hexagons (by reiko)

I'm almost finished 1 of 4 words and I'm happy how it's turning out. I love the natural colour of the wood so I think I will keep it bare and not add the wallpaper prints. I have stacked the pieces at various heights with spacers in between. They will be much larger than I anticipated, possibly over 6 feet long depending on the word and how I decide to present them.

Instead of using wallpaper on top of the hexagon pieces, I'm considering using it underneath the words like a base.

I'm also trying to figure out how I will mount the words. I want them to be flush to the wall. I was thinking of magnets but I'm not sure if there are magnets out there that are strong and thin enough that would keep the pieces flush to the wall. I will probably just use small nails. Any suggestions would be appreciated.

I will post some pictures soon.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Sneak Peak (by Aleks)

This is a small detail of one of the paintings I am working on for this show. They will be much more layered and complex than my work usually gets. I want them to be teeming with life and multiplicity. More soon...

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Islands in the Stream (by Steve)

Things are taking shape. Finding form.
Weeds have grown out of my sculptures though... this always happens...

Monday, May 17, 2010

Hexes have arrived! (by reiko)

3,500 of them!

I decided to stick with wood and kept the size similar to my prototype but slightly bigger.
Laser cut from Baltic birch plywood. They are 3.5cm x 3mm.

Lots of work ahead.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Directions of ideas (by Aleks)

Been painting, low on words, here are some images.

Thierry Bouet

this via here

which leads me to this via here

Relationships between images which will inform the paintings.

Monday, April 12, 2010

3D 'sketching' (by Steve)

I've done some tinkering, which I consider 'sketches' at this point, of cocoon-like structures.
I started to think of whether I could move away from using wood, because its heavy, and I often use it. I was thinking soft sculptures could be interesting. The soft pink insulation as a real organic feel, and could read as flesh, or body tissue of some sorts.

However, its awkward to work with (you aren't supposed to touch it!) and I'm not down with the way the plastic sheets are encapsulating it at this point. The cocoons look kind of 'ugly' and I'm not sure how I feel about that. So good try, but I may need to move on to other materials...

made with only 'construction materials':
insulation, vapour barrier, tuck tape

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Some progress (by reiko)

I have been working on a rough mock up of my project using part of one of the words, "itte". I cut hundreds of hexagon pieces out of foam core and stacked them to the size I liked. For the final project I would like the hexagon pieces to be made out of wood and there will be different patterns of wallpaper covering the tops of the hexagons. I experimented with the heights of the pieces. I wanted to see what it would look like to have them all the same height (the first 2 letters) and also with varied heights (the last 2 letters). I prefer the varied heights but I'm thinking of doing a more gradual change of heights from left to right. I want the wood pieces to be full blocks without the stacked layers but there is something nice about the look of the layers. These words will be hung on the wall as sculptural pieces without a base.

draft in Photoshop

cut hundreds of hexagons out of foam core

rough mock up

Monday, March 15, 2010

Discussions on Public Art

So this isn't related to settlement per se, but I wanted to share a recent email I got from two elementary school kids, who found my website and decided that I would be a good person to ask about public art for their upcoming project.

It's pretty cool and I just thought this should be shown. It took a while to think of the answers. It was hard because I wanted to talk not just about public sculptures (which is what I think they were looking for) but also about how public art could perhaps be defined as anything that involves the community as parts or a whole - which is stuff we've been thinking about with this project as well.

My answers are below the questions:

Dear Steve Newberry,
We are asking you these questions because we are doing a project about Public-Art at school.
1. What size can a Public-Art sculpture be?
2. What materials can you use to make a PublicArt sculpture?
3. What location can Public-Art be?
4. What color can a Public-Art sculpture be?
5. Can a Public-Art sculpture be any shape or design?

1. Any size. But public art is usually outside and you want it to be noticeable, so it is good if it is not too small. I would say at least bigger than 1 foot x 1 foot x 1 foot.
2. You can use any materials, but because public art is usually outside, it is good to use materials that will last for a long time in any type of weather - so materials like cement, metals, bronze, etc are good.
3. Any location, but public art usually wants to be seen by as many people as possible, so it is often found in busy locations, like in public squares, or in front of buildings.
4. Any color!
5. Yes it can be any shape or design. As long as it is not dangerous for people to be around. For example it would be good if there were no sharp edges in a public art sculpture because people could hurt themselves accidentally.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Paper, Shapes & Text (By Seema)

As soon as I saw this artists' work it reminded me of some of the things Reiko had been talking about for her artwork.

The artist's name is Francisca Prieto and I saw her work on the blog Design Sponge.

She craftily folds the insides of envelopes to create patterns and text. To see more of Francisca's work see her website or check out jaggedart.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Containers Part 2 (by Seema)

Some other artists and their container art.

This stalagmite stalactite wood installation reminds me of some of Aleks' ideas of seeing elements of natural, colony like growths mimicked by artificial "man made" structures. These structures also remind me of tall city buildings. The container aspect of this piece is that it was installed in a truck container for Container Ground at Tokyo Designer Week. You can read about it here from de zeen Design Magazine.

This is an installation by Gayle Chong Kwan. This installation is made from used plastic food containers to create the lost city of Atlantis.

Miwa Koizumi uses plastic PET bottles. She likes the idea of using "liquid containers to make water animals. Contained/containing, trash/not-trash, like the jelly-fish or anemone: Living/non-living". I like it too.

Recyle-art light installation in London, with reused plastic bottles.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

hexagonal pixelated cursive (reiko)

I have been working on making cursive fonts out of hexagonal (honeycomb) patterns. Here is part of the alphabet I've created. I like the contrast of using cursive letters in a very rigid pattern. Ideally I would like to make each pixel out of wood pieces that are raised off the base (protruding from the wall). These hexagon pieces could also be translated into buildings of a city. I'm contemplating different heights of the pieces but I'm not sure if that will be successful. I would also like to add wallpaper to the tops of the pieces. In Photoshop, I'm currently experimenting with the format of messages and the scale of the pieces which is proving to be challenging. I don't want the hexagons to be too small but I also have to worry about the total size of the pieces.

Here are few other images that have inspired me while simultaneously making me super envious:
Elisa Strozyk's Wooden Textiles found on

Charles Clary's paper sculptures also found on


Sunday, February 7, 2010

Containers Part 1 (by Seema)

I Googled plastic lunch containers...And found this peculiar yet carefully crafted OWL lunch obento from the Blog Slash Food.

A Hint of Things To Come... (by Seema)

I am experimenting with an everyday household item; portable lunch/food containers. The containers we pack leftovers in. Saving parts of meals worth saving for another time. Taking parts of home and comfort to be enjoyed in other places. I like the idea of using common objects to create new shapes and structures.

I was happy to come across artist Régis Mayot from the Museum of Contemporary Craft website titled "Manufractured". I like Mayot's transformation of plastic containers into delicately sculpted skeletal incarnations of their former selves.

Another piece I like by Mayot. I also intend to incorporate the use of light into the installation that I will create with the portable lunch containers.

On colonizing and scale (by aleks)

I mentioned in a previous post that my ideas for this project are currently centering around scale; speculating on the possibility of colonies of unlikely scale. I came across the above image on Designboom described as "conceptual architectural project from the architects of terreform 1 led by dr. mitchell joachim. the project focuses on how cities can extend into the suburbs sustainably. "

This image by Julia Morstad found at INK+WIT seemed like nice contrast/companion to the first image.

I thought I would post this because I mentioned in our last meeting that I had entertained making some big origami when I came across Matt Johnson's work on Beautiful Decay. Kick ass giant origami.

Friday, January 29, 2010

ittekimasu / tadaima (by reiko)

いってきます "ittekimasu" = I’m going out and coming back
いってらっしゃい "itterasshai" = See you later
ただいま "tadaima" = I’m back (home)
おかえりなさい "okaerinasai" = Welcome back/home

For me, home is the ability to have a place to come back to. You leave but you always come back. Even better yet, you leave and have someone to come back to. Knowing that there is someone to come home to is what makes a place a home.

In Japanese, there are phrases used when you leave home and when you return home. “ittekimasu” when you leave home and “tadaima” when you return. The person who you leave responds by saying “itterasshai” when you leave and “okaerinasai” when you return. I find comfort in these phrases although I don't use them. I am interested in the daily routine of them, the etiquette and the ritual. These are phrases that don't belong to a particular physical space -- you can take them with you. This leads me to think of text messages and the portability of communication. If we are all connected, is our idea of home always with us through a hand-held device? Is my idea of having a place to come back to necessary?

I am interested in craft, patterns and paper. I'm intrigued by illusions and imitations. All of these thoughts have so far amalgamated to this:

Honeycomb patterns - The honeycomb is the nest of the bees and the place where honey is produced and stored. I'm attracted to the beautifully simple hexagon shape and as well the six-sided connectedness. It was interesting to learn that beehive honeycombs are in this shape because it makes efficient use of space and building material.


Text messages and pixels - We are constantly looking at screens and communicating through text messages and emails. Pixels are usually unnoticeable but make up the images and text we see on screen...just like when I type this...and this...and ♥.

= Honeycomb Pixels

What if I created messages using pixels in a honeycomb pattern?

(to be continued)

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

SubDivisions (observations by Steve)

Flying from Vancouver to Calgary recently, these photos are of some new suburb of Calgary. These houses are sprouting seemingly out of nowhere onto a snowy, barren landscape...there are not even any trees visible. Literally a 'pattern' of settlement, the shapes of these communities remind me of English Hedge mazes, or even the shape of aztec ruins, for some reason...