Yoshiko Shimano: “Engraving on Land”

Artist State

“Engraving on Land” is about people’s living conditions, their creativity, and evidence that people’s daily lives have been conducted on their lands. The title has two metaphoric meanings. The first is the physical changes of the land after destruction from wars or colonization. These physical change can also occur from another culture’s influences, like forced construction and industrial projects. Often, past physical change may not be recognized in the present. We forget easily, because lands continue to host new people’s lives that create new landscapes. The second meaning is the emotional scarring and mental changes. I became interested in how people kept their identities, cultures, pride, and languages under difficult circumstance. When I learn about the histories of how people lived, I am often encouraged by their wit, humor, creative energy, and love, which kept their lives going. I hope that my work expresses the beauty of all human beings with their strengths and passions.

“WISDOM OF WATER” and “CITIES IN CHECKERS” are two separate cities in different cultures and locations, but they have twin like similarities. The canal system in Amsterdam influenced the system in Edo (Old Tokyo) of the 17th century, and the city structure in Kyoto in the 12th century had a very similar city plan to New York City today. I became fascinated by how human beings of different nationalities, cultures, and religions embraced similar living conditions: even if living conditions then in each country were limited in many different aspects, I often feel that the people lived their everyday lives creatively, simply, beautifully, and peacefully.

“70 YEARS OF SILENCE”, “COMPENSATION FOR THE COUNTRY”, and “COMPENSATION FOR THE COUNTRY – RED and WHITE” address the island of Okinawa in Japan, which has been a victim of political conflict with both Japan’s main islands and the U.S. Particularly even into the present, discrimination and neglect by Japan’s main islands have been focused toward Okinawa. I realized there are many similar stories around our world. People, who by chance are living on small islands or in countries with a small GDP, become less valued. Their voices are hardly heard.

“BLACK TEARS AND BLACK RAIN”, both terms were natural phenomena. One occurred after the USS Arizona was sunk in Pearl Harbor in 1941 and the other after a nuclear weapon was exploded over Hiroshima in 1945. In Hawaii, black oil tears arose from the sunken ship forming floating rings on the ocean. In Japan, black rain, contaminated with high levels of radioactive dust, caused a secondary disaster and increased the number of victims of the bomb. The year of 2016 became a historical year when President Obama became the first sitting U.S. president to visit the Hiroshima Peace Memorial and met some Hibakusha (survivors of the nuclear bomb). In the same year, Japan’s Prime Minister Abe visited Pearl Harbor. These events proved to the rest of the world that two past enemy nations could achieve and maintain a peaceful friendship after seventy-one years and are working together toward world peace.

11 70 Years of Silence.jpg


Working on a grand scale, printmaker Yoshiko Shimano challenges to transform the paper so it no longer speaks as “paper”, but has a density of physical presence that is one with its imagery. By using many different printmaking marks, she wishes to unify existing mediums and layers into a seamless language. Her work invites its audience to enter a seemingly infinite and paradoxically intimate space. Hung in one space large- scale prints become installations or environmental works, which interact with the architecture and create own atmosphere. She likes the possibility of the work “breathing” in its specific environment. Many of her work are her prayers for things she doesn’t have control over, but feels responsibilities toward as one living in this world.

Japanese born Yoshiko Shimano’s work has been exhibited extensively in Canada, Europe, Japan and the United States. She received her B.F.A. degree from California College of the Arts and M.F.A. degree from Mills College in Oakland, California.
She embraces an artist’s responsibilities within society to expand beyond studio practices or gallery presentations. Shimano has offered many outreach projects, local and international, and made prints for various minority groups and victims of natural disaster with her students through the Department of Art at the University of New Mexico.


Yoshiko Shimano Artist Homepage: https://www.yoshikoshimano.com/​​
University of New Mexico Faculty Page: http://art.unm.edu/yoshiko-shimano/


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