Etsuko Ichikawa
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artist statement

My working media varies broadly, from socially engaged art, performance, and film, to installation, sculpture, and drawing. What ties all my work together are the aesthetics that were once described as “visuals that evoke a haunting mix of fear and poetry”—filming dripping water from the top of the 500-feet high nuclear cooling tower, recording my echoing voice asking “What is beautiful to you?” into the absolute darkness in the 1000-feet long tunnel, or distributing the sunflower planting kits in Hanford to absorb radioactive cesium from the contaminated soil.

All these actions and creations are often inspired by my questions on what is important to us in our current times and in the societies to which each of us belongs. The Fukushima nuclear disaster that occurred in my home country of Japan in 2011 triggered a turning point in my art practice, as I started seeking a way to use art as a social and civic instrument.

I was born and raised in Tokyo and have lived in Seattle for over two decades. Both places are home to me while my life is rooted in America, my spiritual-seeking and aesthetic sensibilities strongly call to Japan. My work is a reflection of myself in these two distinctively different cultures.


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