Carolina Maki Kitagawa – Tucson, Arizona

the talk,  American western saddle, Mexican western saddle, saw horses, iron horse shoes, mountain lion hide, and still born pelt; 6’ x 4’ x 3’ , 2014

the talk, American western saddle, Mexican western saddle, saw horses, iron horse shoes, mountain lion hide, and still born pelt; 6’ x 4’ x 3’ , 2014

Briefly describe the work you do.

In recent works, I challenge modalities of identification with the encompassing human need for a told story. My method of live story telling allows me to wrap myself in words to the exclusion of the audience. I strategically mediate a fragmented stream of communication, placing the viewer in a vulnerable position of not knowing everything needed for the intended situation, providing a glimpse into the discomfort of inaccessible knowledge. I work on my art with the knowledge that life is a temporally based venture. As the inferior director of an uncontrollable presence, I document and sculpt narrations that question the audacity of those in the position to construct and impose social distortions.  My work reorients what I perceive as the disorientation that has taken over the daily life of tolerating oneself.

Tell us a little about your background and how that influences you as an artist.

I come from East L.A. and I like to do full marathons.  I come from a world where accessibility to anything was a big concern and affected my upbringing enough so, that it still plays a role in my being a disjointed artist.

The concept of the “artist studio” has a broad range of meanings, especially in contemporary practice.  The idea of the artist toiling away alone in a room may not necessarily reflect what many artists do from day to day anymore.  Describe your studio practice and how it differs from (or is the same as) traditional notions of “being in the studio”.

I go to Mexico as much as I can and get inspired by listening to stories of my family and ride horses at the ranch with the cowboys.  I also work a lot on my ideas while I run long distances through busy city streets and keep my heart healthy.

What unique roles do you see yourself as the artist playing that you may not have envisioned yourself in when you first started making art?

I hadn’t considered the responsibility aspect of undertaking the role of an artist.  I felt it with children, when I used to teach art and mentor kids from my neighborhood.  I saw how fruitful it was to them to spend time with me showing them museums and do things painterly or sculpturally and give them an idea of what they are capable of.  I hadn’t considered the responsibility in relation to other adults, professors, viewers, or fellow contemporaries.  As Spiderman’s uncle so eloquently phrased it, “ …  With great power comes great responsibility. 

When do you find is the best time of day to make art?  Do you have time set aside every day, every week or do you just work whenever you can?

The best time of day to work is when no one is around.  I am easily distracted by casual conversations.  I come into my studio either in the early morning or late into the night.  I am in my studio in between as well, but usually I am writing or flipping through library books.

ouch, road rubble, plaster, acrylic paint, 12’ x 13” x 6”, 2013

ouch, road rubble, plaster, acrylic paint, 12’ x 13” x 6”, 2013

How has your work changed in the last five years?  How is it the same?

Five years ago, I was working for other artists in their studios as a mold making and casting assistant.  I had no time or mental energy to focus entirely on my work.  What has changed most is the amount of attention I am able to give to my work. Prioritizing my work over other various life related matters has been a great benefit in progressing and furthering my growth as an artist.

Are there people such as family, friends, writers, and philosophers or even pop icons that have had an impact on the work you do?

Since I was a kid I have been inspired by a few artists, some are, Liza Minnelli, Richard Pryor, Maria Felix, Yoko Ono, Ann Hamilton, and Bette Davis.  I also read a great deal of Russian literature, Japanese fiction from the 60s and 70s, and Kundera.  I have a very supportive family and life long friends spanning from the west coast and the east, south of the border and across the Pacific Ocean.  Of all places, I found an awesome person just a few blocks away from my house in Tucson who fully understands me and completely supports my work. 

If you had an occupation outside of being an artist, what would that be and why?

I don’t see being an artist solely as an occupation.  It encompasses many things and jobs.  I would pursue a more lavish private session training program for upscale marathon runners. 


headshotCarolina Maki Kitagawa (b. 1982) is a multi-disciplinary artist whose work employs video, sculpture, performance, and drawing.  In her recent work Carolina examines absence, love and deviations from conventions of social behaviors; within this, she concentrates on moments of failure, flirtation, and awkwardness.  Carolina currently resides in Tucson where she an MFA candidate in performance, ceramics, and sculpture at the University of Arizona.  Carolina exhibits her work both locally and nationally, including a recent exhibition at Cathouse FUNeral Gallery in Brooklyn, NY.  Most recently she won an honorable mention in the October 2014 issue of Sculpture magazine.

Me in my Studio

Me in my Studio

All images copyright of the artist and used with their permission.  


About 365Artists/365Days

The purpose of this project is to introduce its readership to a diverse collection of art that is being produced at the national and international level. Our goal is to engage the public with information regarding a wide array of creative processes, and present the successes and failures that artists face from day to day. The collaborators hope that this project will become a source for exploring and experiencing contemporary art in all its forms.
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