Artist Profile: Etsuko Ichikawa

Examiner Arts Writer

Etsuko Ichikawa is an artist who creates site specific art installations as well as smaller objects and prints. The first time I encountered her mesmerizing work was during ArtDetour 2003. At that time she had a home studio in Columbia City and was showing an installation as part of a juried show at the Bemis Building on South First Avenue.

A mass of carefully manipulated plastic piping — an artificial web without the spider — awaited viewers in a cul de sac, a curiously filled empty space off a main hallway. From a chair to the side, Ichikawa presided over her installation, offering explanations for the used material which looked fragile, resembling blown glass.

Since then, she’s been busy, creating new work and exhibiting in Haiochi, Japan, in California and Washington state. In 2004 she showed “Funiki: Floating Feelings,” an installation made of hundreds of strategically hung glass droplets and mixed-media objects (each a universe in itself) caught under a glass dome, at Viveza Gallery in Seattle.

Earlier this year, she participated in the “Tacoma Contemporary: urban art installation” in the Woolworth Building and showed her signature pyrographs (mono prints created by pressing hot glass onto dampened paper) at several venues in Seattle. During Bumbershoot 2005, she offered her interpretation (fire – thread and paper) of the curator’s guideline: “Raw & Refined.”

Ichikawa is the recipient of several awards, among which are the Poncho Artist-in-Residence Program and a George Tsutakawa Memorial Scholarship, both at the Pratt Fine Arts Center. In 2005 she received a 4Culture grant. Her work has been exhibited in Japan, the Netherlands and the United States.

While Ichikawa favors glass, she fearlessly mixes media.

“My father was a tailor,” she said. “There was always thread and fabric around to play with.”

In her hands, crocheting transforms from craft to art form.

She may experiment and the results may always be different, however, the aim of Ichikawa’s work, large and small, is constant: to capture the moment, atmospheric impressions and feelings.

Her latest line “Deia” is focused on encounters, the momentary caught by bringing water, paper and fire together — a brief moment eternalized in a print.

If you like to see more of her work, check out “Found in Translation” an exhibition and sale of works by over 30 artists from the Pacific NW and Asia, who are inspired by Asian Traditions, at TORA (The Other Roadside Attraction) Gallery, 18791 Cedardale Road, Mount Vernon. Nov. 5 – Dec. 4. Gallery Hours: Fri, Sat, Sun 11 a.m. – 5 p.m., and by appointment. Info Tatsuo Tomeoka, (206) 660-4189 or [email protected].

Dec. 1-4, Ichikawa will be showing with SOIL at “Aqua Art Miami” (concurrent with the biggest U.S. art show: Art Basel/ Miami Beach).

Closer to home you can attend an artist slide show/lecture at the Tacoma Art Museum on Dec. 13, 1-2 p.m. (Ichikawa is a graduate of EDGE, a new professional development program offered by Artist Trust which provides artists a comprehensive survey course in professional practices).

If your are in the Greenlake neighborhood, check out her work at Cafe Lulu, 6417 Latona Ave. NE. (206) 527-7062. Ichikawa’s pyrographs will be on display from Dec. 9 through the end of 2005.

And of course, see her work and the meet the artist at International Examiner’s “Arts, Etc.” event on Nov. 5.

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