Cool Friends:  Yuko Nishikawa

Meet Yuko, a local artist best known for her colorful, quirky work with clay — you might have even seen her work on our “Best Affordable Local Ceramics Artists” feature a few months ago. We’ve been following along with Yuko’s daily painting practice and caught up with her to learn more.

How did your career as an artist begin?

While working for interior design studios and designing furniture and lighting pieces for a home furnishing company for about a decade, I explored different materials like glass, wood and metal. I then rented a shelf in a communal ceramic studio to play with clay next. I opened my own ceramic studio and gradually started putting in more time for making my own work while still working full-time. I finally decided to allocate all my time for my own work and took a sabbatical year in 2017. The following year, I did not return to my day job and continued working in my studio. My projects have evolved from functional ceramic tableware in the first years, to now, sculptures, lighting and installations. This year, in addition to ceramics, I am also working with paints, paper clay and wire.

What's your favorite part about the New York creative community?

I meet people with diverse creative backgrounds who are generous in sharing their thoughts and experiences and are open to learning new things from others. Before the virus I organized a monthly gathering in my studio inviting people to share their creative projects. I enjoyed making friends and hearing about what they were working on and passionate about in a casual and fun environment. They are dancers, poets, chefs, neuroscientists, curators, game designers, painters, glass artists, ceramicists, photographers, an ikebana artist, a lady who is passionate about tea, another lady who is passionate about coffee, another about packaging materials etc.  We were in our fourth year hosting these events when the pandemic started. When it becomes safe to gather I would like to plan events like that again.

Can you talk about your recent daily painting practice?

On my first day of quarantine I started a painting project called My Worker Is Working from Home and She Is a Painter, where I would make one painting a day. The night before my quarantine I had made a list of things I wished to do if I had more time. I picked painting. I used watercolor, acrylics and ink and posted everyday on my Instagram account and on my website for sale.  Now I’m taking a break after completing a hundred paintings and plan on starting another painting project this fall. I enjoy the sense of excitement and freedom painting gives me that is quite different from working in ceramics.

Follow along:
@yuko_nishikawa on Instagram

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Made in Brooklyn, NY