Etsuko Ichikawa
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November 4, 2015
Destined to Create: Artist Etsuko Ichikawa
Asian Avenue Magazine write-up
By Sarah Shirazi | Asian Avenue magazine

Etsuko Ichikawa is a Tokyo-born, Seattle-based artist who works in a variety of media including film, sound, drawing, sculpture, installation, and performance. Growing up in Tokyo and working professionally as an art project coordinator there, art has always been a part of Ichikawa’s life. Still, she thought it would be difficult to make it as a professional artist.

A trip to the doctor over twenty years ago changed everything for Ichikawa, when her blood work came back with potentially alarming results. This caused her to seriously ponder what would happen if she only had a month to live. “It was a wake up call,” says Ichikawa. Shortly thereafter, visiting a bookstore to flip through art magazines, the first page she opened was an advertisement for a glass blowing class. She attended the class on Noto Island outside of Tokyo in the summer of 1991 and fell in love with the art of glass blowing. After that, Ichikawa says, “everything started moving really quickly.”

After more tests, Ichikawa was deemed healthy. Soon after, she left her job in Tokyo to study English at the University of Washington and attend the Pilchuck Glass School in Standwood Washington, founded by world-famous glass artist Dale Chihuly. Ichikawa went on to work for Chihuly in various roles for eight years, where she learned what she describes as, “the practical and philosophical elements to glass blowing.” In addition to Dale Chihuly, Ichikawa also admires visual artist Ann Hamilton.

Ichikawa’s work has been exhibited internationally, including at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, the Ueno Royal Museum in Tokyo, the Seattle Art Museum, the Bellevue Arts Museum, and the University of Wyoming Art Museum. She is the recipient of numerous awards and accolades including the Pollock Krasner Foundation Grant, Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, and National Endowment for the Arts.

The concept of healing is a reoccurring theme for Ichikawa. “I’m a very spiritual person and I think creating art is energy work: you are delivering or transforming some sort of energy,” she says. “I love being in my studio and making things. Healing is very much a part of my lifework. Maybe that is why people sense it. People feel like my artwork makes them feel calm.”

Ichikawa describes the most memorable response to her work being at the University of Wyoming Art Museum in Laramie: “I had a solo show in 2011 called NACHI. It was one of the most complex installations I’ve ever done in a 4,000-square-foot gallery. It was also my first time in Wyoming and I might have been the only Asian person, or person of color in sight the whole time I was there. I remember a gentleman in a cowboy hat and bolo tie telling me, “I had no idea about Shintoism, but I have a good understanding of what it is now.”

The gentleman told Ichikawa that he was a Christian. She says, “I remember feeling that it was a rewarding experience to be a part of the country, talking with someone from a completely different background about my work. That stuck with me and I still talk about that after four years.”

Ichikawa shares that the best practical advice she has ever been given was from an art mentor over twelve years ago. She recounts being guided through an exercise where the teachers instructed them to close their eyes and think about their dream world. “What are you doing in your dream? What makes you most happy,” asked the teacher. Ichikawa says, “After that we had to write down what we want to accomplish in ten years to make this dream come true, and then in varying increments, three years, six months, one month. I still do this every year.” She pauses and adds, “This is the best tool I have in order to pursue where I am going.”

Etsuko Ichikawa’s artwork is available through Michael Warren Contemporary in Denver. Her work is also on display at the Republic Plaza Lobby on 17th Street in Downtown Denver through November 19, 2016.

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News Archive
April 23, 2017
A permanent art installation for Pullman High School
in Pullman, WA.
The final proposal has been approved and the project is moving forward to its fabrication. Working with Arts WA, Washington State Arts Commission.
March 01, 2017
Visiting Artist Program at Museum of Glass
in Tacoma, WA.
Experimental project using Uranium glass for my new work "JOMON Vitrified".
February 10, 2017
Glass Pyrograph commissioned
for The Alexandria at Torrey Pines in San Diego
June 16, 2016
Grand Prize awarded by Dave Bown Projects
September 06, 2015
Crafted: Objects in Flux
Museum of Fine Arts Boston
August 25, 2015 – January 10, 2016
August 25, 2015
Crafted: Objects in Flux published by Museum of Fine Arts Boston
August 01, 2015
Interview published on COLLECT & CONNECT
April 04, 2015
Artist Presentation on HAKONIWA Project
Museum of Northwest Art, La Conner, WA
March 31, 2015
Mesmerizing Molten Glass Paintings by Etsuko Ichikawa
March 22, 2015
FORCES OF NATURE, Film Screening & Presentation
Seattle Art Museum Olympic Sculpture Park
November 01, 2014
Solo Exhibit Review by Matthew Kangas on art ltd., November 2014 issue
April 17, 2014
Performance at Chrysler Museum of Art
February 11, 2014
Seattle Weekly reviews Echo at Satsop
December 08, 2013
New Work: Aquagraph on panel
December 07, 2013
New Work: Tsurezuregusa series on panel
October 04, 2013
Echo at Satsop film is released!
October 02, 2013
The Culture Trip interview
September 27, 2013
Etsuko Ichikawa: Art Zone with Nancy Guppy
September 17, 2013
Seattle Times reviews Echo at Satsop
December 31, 2012
Archived Interviews: 1996 - 2012
December 31, 2012
Archived Publications: 1996 - 2012
December 31, 2012
Archived Reviews: 1996 - 2013
November 21, 2012
Art Rader Asia interview
November 14, 2012
Exhibit Catalogue: Waterhouse & Dodd
April 01, 2009
Review: Afterburn on GLASS
March 02, 2009
Etsuko Ichikawa at BAM on Art Culture
September 01, 2008
Plumbing the Subconscious
May 14, 2008
Living Images: Etsuko Ichikawa’s Ephemeral Eternal
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