Artist Emi Ozawa creates a visual feast of shape and light

Artist Emi Ozawa creates a visual feast of shape and light

Artist Emi Ozawa was born in Japan and is a visual artist, sculptor and furniture designer. (Chancey Bush/Albuquerque Journal)

Editor’s note:

The Journal continues the once-a-month series “From the Studio” with Kathaleen Roberts, as she takes an up-close look at an artist.

From the time she was a child growing up in Tokyo, Emi Ozawa loved gazing up at the round, serene surface of the moon.

From there grew a fascination with the allure of geometry and sculpture.

An Albuquerque resident since 2009, the Japanese artist created a geometric feast of circles, squares, shadow and light at Richard Levy Gallery through Jan. 14.

Ozawa creates painted wood wall sculptures that optically shift when viewed from different angles. Both constructive and minimalist, they feature strategically-arranged color application on assembled pieces of wood.

“I always liked wood as a material,” she said. “I had these colorful wood blocks when I was a kid. I loved the distressed colors of the wood.”

Ozawa attended Joshibi University of Art and Design, followed by studies at the Tokyo University of the Arts. Within two years she had transferred as an exchange student at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia to study woodworking.

“It was the first time I was in the U.S.,” she said. “I studied the language but it took me some time to understand what people say. But I can express myself through my heart.”

She later earned an MFA degree in furniture design at Rhode Island School of Design.

Artist Emi Ozawa was born in Japan and is a visual artist, sculptor and furniture designer. (Chancey Bush/Albuquerque Journal)

But furniture was expensive and hard to sell. She wanted to make sculpture that people could touch. She produced clocks and boxes to take to trade shows.

“Give me a circle and square everyday,” she writes in her artist statement. “I will eat it for lunch.

“The circle is perfection,” she added. “There’s also the nature of continuity.”

The square has special significance in Japanese culture.

The tatami floor mat is a rectangle with two-to-one proportions, used to define many aspects of domestic architecture. The Japanese view the square as the origin of invented form.

“Origami may be very recognizable,” she said. “When you fold it one way it becomes a triangle. If you fold it another way it becomes a rectangle. It keeps changing with the folding.”

Her piece “Blue Dango” emerged from Japanese cuisine.

“Dango is a sweet rice flower dumping,” Ozawa said. “It’s a sphere shape. Often you see this confection skewed onto sticks.”

“Crimson Drop” folds into a heart or a wedge, depending on the viewpoint. It began as a folded piece of paper.

“Meet me at the square” germinated from cardboard.

“I used chip board like cereal box material,” Ozawa said. “Paper can create pieces much thinner than wood. This connection can be just a line in a delicate connection.”

The side views are equally as important as the front.

“I am interested in how geometry can distort from various perspectives, a circle to an oval, a square to a rhombus,” she writes. “A curved line can be seen straight. An angle disappears into a straight line. To realize these interests, I take the picture plane and make it a 3D experience.”

Emi Ozawa has exhibited widely in the U.S. and, most recently, in Munich, Germany. Her public collections include the Albuquerque Museum, Fidelity Investments and the Chicago Board Options Exchange.

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