Born and raised in Japan, Nishiki Sugawara--‐Beda immigrated to the US as a young adult. She creates art works that deals with the examination of various cultures. Her work has been presented in solo exhibitions as well as numerous group shows, at national and international level. She has been shortlisted for various art competitions, including the Door Prize (Bristol, England), Paint Like You Mean It(Edinburgh, Scotland), Art Gemini Prize (London, England), and7th National Juried Exhibition at Prince Street Gallery (New York).Her work has been published in the 87th issue of New American Paintings, Fresh Paint Magazine, and Expose Art Magazine: Special Edition. She graduated from Portland State University with a BA, and earned her MFA in Painting at the Indiana University. She is currently an Assistant Professor at the University of Idaho, USA.
As a child, I learned Japanese calligraphy at school. When I was growing up, I watched my father, a calligrapher, practicing and saw how he approached his work. We talked about the meaning behind each proverb he was writing or about his practice itself. We still do. Together with Sumi--‐e (Japanese ink painting), Japanese calligraphy has become an activity that immediately connects me to my foundation as an individual and artist. In my current series of work, I use this foundation as a basis for exploring the relationship between written language and visual images. I start by searching for characters that embody a phrase or word expressing a particular theme. I draw the phrase in one layer and add another layer that explores possible nuances of the phrase, which creates a sense of space. I prefer paper as my surface, for the immediacy and finality with which it actively drinks up the ink. Finally, I add other elements that travel through the space, introducing more nuances, supporting the ideas, and making the space more complex or contradictory. One of my goals is to connect emotionally to the meaning conveyed by the character or phrase, so that everything I do is a physical expression of that meaning. In Decision, for example, every mark and movement is a physical manifestation of "decision--‐making." It represents the progressive feelings of decision--‐making through Japanese written language. The initial layer expresses uncertainty to form the painting's base, followed by layers in which I add nuance and complexity using language and brush strokes. Ultimately, the final layer declares decisiveness. My mark-making is sincere and direct, a physical response to the emotion that is transferred into the work.