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Japan Day 2014 Submission

Japan Day 2014

This is something I created for Japan Day in Central Park 2014, an event made “to build bridges of cultural understanding between the people of Japan and the U.S., show the local Japanese community’s appreciation toward their home city, New York and to facilitate stronger grassroots connections within the local Japanese community.”

When submitting we were also required to make a 500-ish word statement, so:

My submission for the Japan Day Art Contest stems from a daydream I had of the cities of New York and Tokyo coming together to be one. I imagined myself walking past The Reservoir in Central Park in the spring-time with the warm sun on my shoulders, looking towards the New York skyline and then being able to see Mount Fuji. I have seen many different skylines of various cities, and although some may have notable architectural features, many look similar to the undiscerning eye. Japan’s skyline, however, is backdropped by the majestic mountain and similar to many others before me, I wanted to depict the well-known cultural symbol in my own work.

Although my piece was completely made on a digital platform, I used the same skills as I would drawing on paper, in addition to some techniques not applicable to a physical format. I referenced various traditional Japanese landscape paintings during the early stages, I looked at and admired the strong line-work complemented with simple colorings. Hiroshige’s One Hundred Famous views of Edo is a collection I looked to often when working on this piece. I wanted to emulate some of the techniques I saw in traditional Japanese art, but I also wanted to avoid merely copying the style. I challenged myself to blend an organic form of illustration with hard geometric forms in order to create a synthesized piece, similar to my synthesized daydream-city. I used irregular triangles to shape parts of the ground, including Mount Fuji in the background. Regular hexagons were used to abstract the water and sky while a mix of rectangles and squares were used for the city skyline. In contrast with the geometric shapes, I used more painterly techniques when illustrating the trees. I wanted to give life to the environment by giving the impression of wind rustling through the cherry blossoms.

The blend of organic and geometric came with the heading of this piece, the “Japan Day” origami-inspired text which floats in the sky. I have always found the art of folding paper to be beautiful, and it was my intent to give respect to the tradition in creating this text. I first began by creating the letters with paper first and then recreating it with vectors. I also sought out patterns that I felt would complement the rest of the piece, but kept the color range in the red hues in reference to Japan’s strong connection with the color.