At 2:46pm on March 11, 2011, I was painting in a borrowed studio in Tokyo. I remember this clearly because the model had arrived late and I glanced at the wall clock at 2:45 thinking I needed to get things going on the painting. She felt it first; she looked up at me and said, “earthquake.” A few seconds later I felt it, too: fast and shallow shakes, not unlike many I had felt before. I got up and went outside to the veranda; a few other people were out there looking apprehensive but no one was moving. It wasn’t shaking violently but what bothered me was that it hadn’t stopped. As I stepped back into the studio with a mental shrug everything changed: the building suddenly shook hard, and it kept shaking as I ran inside, everything loose falling down, glass breaking, and grabbed the model’s hand to get out. People were moving as quickly as they could down the stairs but it all felt like a dream: the stairwell shook and footfalls were uncertain and no one could know if the old building would really stand up. We all made it to a small area between the buildings and there we tried to collect ourselves and understand what was happening. Everyone was saying that they had never felt anything like this before.
The earthquake continued for about five more minutes, though not as violently as before. In a way, however, it was worse than the hard shaking. I was standing on solid ground, on asphalt, and though I couldn’t see the movement, I felt it: the ground beneath my feet moved, and it felt as though I were standing up on a small rocky boat over deep water.
Found in Translation
So much was broken and lost that day. The earthquake and its aftermath turned everyone's world upside-down, and anyone who experienced it has had to rebuild in some way or another. On a personal level, the experience has compelled me to redouble my efforts as an American artist in Japan to capture what endures about the people and culture. Found in Translation is my attempt to do that.
This project is not a memorial of the earthquake, tsunami, or the aftermath, per se. Instead, I want to create a body of work that celebrates the beauty of the Japanese people and their culture with the hope that it may eclipse some of the darker images from the disaster.
Found in Translation is primarily a painting project, made up of 20-30 portraits of real people in Tokyo. The portraits are composed at locations in the city or against other elements of Japanese iconography, so there is a serious photographic element to the project, as well. My goal is to capture the essence of both the subject and the location - and thereby convey, or translate, what inspires me as the country struggles to rise again. Your backing would enable me to gather enough source material to complete the project.
I plan to use the Kickstarter funds to buy additional photographic and painting materials, to help with the cost of framing the finished work, to defray incidental travel costs and pay other miscellaneous expenses as I complete the project.
As with any Kickstarter project, Found in Translation will only happen if fully funded by the deadline. If successful, however, I have a variety of great rewards for my supporters, including original photographs, paintings, and even a personalized tour of the Tokyo that I know and love. I hope that you find a level of support that excites you!
Here are a few examples of my painting. I am currently working on about ten paintings in the series not shown here, with still more paintings in the early planning stages.
And finally, here are a few examples of my photography. I use images like this for both general and compositional inspiration when painting.
You can see more examples of my work on my websites. Thanks for looking and thanks for your support!