30×30 Artist Spotlight: Naomi Kasumi
July 6, 2023
More than 40 pieces of art line the walls of the Museum of Life and Science’s 30×30: Art, Nature, and Science exhibition, and we are honored to introduce you to a few of the artists. The exhibit is open through July 16 and entry is included with Museum admission.
Meet Naomi Kasumi, the creator of Home Sweet Home (mixed-media) and Urban Colonial Sanctuaries (handmade felt, colored machine-made felt, fishing strings). Born and raised in Kyoto, Japan, Naomi is currently both a professor of design and the director of the design program at Seattle University in Seattle, WA. Read more about her here!
Please share a little bit about yourself as a person and an artist.
My background is highly varied. I was educated in music beginning at age five; as a young adult I was an elite professional cross-country ski racer; and in the U.S., I am certified as a PADI SCUBA dive master. My involvement in outdoor sports has given me a deep connection to nature.
My work includes a variety of media — some ephemeral, some (semi-)permanent. Recurring themes include “presence and absence,” “memory/memorial,” and “loss and healing” that are derived from personal experience of loss and grief, a primary focus of my installation art and research. My smaller scale projects include book art, and design overall.
What drew you to 30×30: Art, Nature, and Science?
My love of nature, the theme of the 30×30 exhibition, and the size limitation all perfectly matched with what I create.
I saw the call for artists by the Museum of Life and Science was like, “Oh, this is for me!” Instantly I felt that it was important to participate and felt I would belong to this community and artist works.
How do your pieces showcase art, nature, and science?
(Speaking on Home Sweet Home) I have been inspired by bees and the extraordinary quality of “bee’s wax” in the making of their home. That has been vital to my creative work for a long time. I decided to put a spotlight on those bees that give us so much, but we don’t give back in the way we should, so I created a special prototype accordion book, called Home Sweet Home. This book is made to raise awareness of the environmental issue related to bees that sustain our life, food sources, and the environment. These tiny creatures help turn a huge wheel in the world agriculture system. In addition, bees are vitally important not only to human food but also to the ecosystem.
Many trees in the forest and plants rely on bees to pollinate to grow and reproduce. Without them, not only do we just lose our favorite coffee and fruits, but also there is a more widespread effect on nature, the forests that enrich the soil as well as provide clean water through the soil to all living things. Now seven different species of bees are listed as endangered species. This is an urgent matter that the texts in the book are selected to highlight them.
In this very personal perspective, the book expresses my gratitude to these tiny creatures, for their contribution to my creative work and research, as well as enriching my life. [Home Sweet Home] was dedicated to bees and their contribution to our life. Therefore, the shape of each page on this special book is hexagon and creates a very unique form with the binding method of accordion book.
Is there anything else you’d like our visitors to know about your pieces, process, or the intersection of art and the global conservation movement?
I have another piece called Urban Colonial Sanctuaries in the exhibition. The birds’ nests made out of felt are very unique shape nests hanging from the museum ceiling. This work is developed in the theme of “making crisis visible” that is surrounded by the ideas of environmental issues and crisis. The crisis of our planet, for which we are absolutely responsible, will lead us into a new age: the age of a new nomadic way of life. As sea levels rise, many of the world’s global hubs will be flooded and rendered inhabitable. Even if we try to shield ourselves from migration today, in a future after the climate crisis we will probably all be migrants.
Urban Colonial Sanctuaries reminds us of what hospitality means and how we can live together peacefully. In a nomadic future, in which we should remember the very hospitable of our nomadic past, we will be depending on each other once again in our everyday life.
[I admire] the labor-intensive process to construct a beautiful “home” using just own beak and feet with limited materials that they can find and collect, so I wanted to build forms inspired by the Baya weaverbird’s nest that has elaborate shapes like “hanging woven chambers.” Also, all birds have the freedom of crossing borders, and freedom of creating their own colonies for survival. High up in a tree, they start building their nests on thin branches to protect their home from predators. But this is not the case in human society. These characteristics of weaverbirds and their nests remind us of historical and contemporary immigration issues. “You forgot that you are also an immigrant. If you think you aren’t, then your grandmother was.”
Be sure to check out Naomi Kasumi’s pieces and all the works in 30×30: Art, Nature, and Science now through July 16. Visitors are also invited to cast their vote for their favorite piece! The winner of the Visitors’ Prize will be announced at a later date, so click here to make your choice.
The exhibit is located on the first floor of the main building next to Gizmo Garage and is open during Museum hours.