Nishiki Sugawara - Beda

Born and raised in Japan, Nishiki primarily works on 2D surface while continuing her experimentations with other visual languages, such as 3D expression and video. With her multicultural background and her experience in immigration, she continues to search for her own cultural identity through the process of creation, including her resent visits to Japan to study Japanese calligraphy and Sumi-e with a Sumi-e master. She exhibits nationally and internationally, and gives an artist talk at various places including universities and art centers. She graduated from Portland State University with BA in Fine Art in 2005 and earned her MFA from Indiana University in Painting in 2010. Currently, she is an Assistant Professor of Art at Southern Methodist University in Dallas.


“I was born and raised in Japan, where all schoolchildren learn calligraphy. Calligraphy has become an entrance point to understanding my own culture as it allows me to recognize the existence of underlying meanings in all forms—language, images, even the mundane interactions of being. This craft provides the foundation and inspiration for my practice.

My aim is to connect with the power of mark-making—a spiritually engaged mark-making. Consciously cultivating a mindless state of mind where marks are made on the surface is vital. The marks, which create forms, areas, patterns, layers, and seemingly tangible objects, can hold the essence of ideas, cultures, values, morals, and visceral emotions. The mark can be simple, yet holds everything. The essential is the focus, and it is most accessible in abstract forms because it enables us to connect both with the essential and with each other.

My installation work, by contrast, transforms the viewer into participant. In the traditional format of Japanese calligraphy, seals (which to Western eyes resemble stamps) serve as signifiers depending on their placement on the paper. The words or phrases—the literal characters on each seal—provide one meaning; the placement provides yet another. I have decoded and reinterpreted this reading by forming single lines of seals and have fashioned them into Mobius strips which are then suspended in space. Because the characters that comprise the seals are being presented without their calligraphic context, I am providing a blank canvas of sorts that serves as an invitation to the viewer to complete the work. The viewer brings their own emotional state, adds their own words and phrases both physically and metaphorically, and becomes the missing element—a human, corporeal calligraphic form themselves”.