A celebration of Asian American arts will take place at “Arts, Etc.” on Saturday, Nov. 5. Examiner Staff Hong Van interviews two of the artists, Saya Moriyasu and musician Angelo Pizarro. For information and tickets, please call (206) 624-3925 or visit www.iexaminer.org.

Saya Moriyasu was born into a family of artists. So it was no surprise that she found herself a part of the world of art.

Born in Portland, Ore., Moriyasu says that she was always around art because her father was an abstract expressionist painter as well as a photographer in transcendental photography. Her mother and grandmother are tea ceremony masters. Her aunt is a dancer.

Moriyasu says that art “got into me” because her family was so creative. Although her father first encouraged her to pursue a career in engineering or business, Moriyasu says that she felt sad “because I wanted to study art.”

Eventually she graduated from the University of Washington (UW) with a degree in Ceramic Sculpture, which she says was “by accident.”

“The UW ceramics department was really great so I switched from sculpture to ceramics,” Moriyasu said. “I really got into ceramics in 1999. Before that I was interested in other materials. So my true love of clay is rather recent.”

After graduating from UW, Moriyasu also attended Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture (Artist Residency) in Maine and did a residency at Centrum in Port Townsend.

Since then Moriyasu’s creative juices have been flowing rampantly and her work has been displayed in many installations across the city and more.

Earlier this spring, Moriyasu had an installation called the “Lamplight Lavish Gathering” at the Platform Gallery that featured 36 lamps she created.

When asked how she came up with the concept for the installation, Moriyasu said, “The overall idea came first, the sensation of a large store display without the other things in the store [and] taking that out of one context and into the gallery.”

Moriyasu says that she wanted to produce the 36 lamps because she wanted to have “an amount that suggests ‘production’ but having it be all handmade.”

“I remember as a child reading ‘hand painted’ on ceramic things and I would look carefully at them to see the brush strokes,” Moriyasu commented. “We’ve become used to seeing mass production. So my hope was to take that mass but the production be all by hand.”

Currently, she is working on a print and sculpture edition with Olivianna Press.

“This is exciting to work with a professional printer and have an edition box set,” she says. “The edition is based on my Portraits of Ladies and Man Servant.”

She says that monoprints in preparation of her latest project with Olivianna Press is currently being shown at the Richard Hugo House located at 1634 11th Ave. from now until Nov. 30.

As for her next ceramic work, Moriyasu says that she is planning an extension of her “Lamplight Lavish Gathering” by creating chandeliers.

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