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Gina Ariko

Artist Bio

I owe my lifelong love of painting to my ojichan and obaachan, who are both professional artists. Currently based in Seattle, I spent every other summer of my childhood visiting family in Kitakyushu, Japan, my mom’s hometown. My favorite memories of that time are waking up before the sunrise to paint in the quiet stillness of their studio, surrounded by shelves of still life objects. With the obvious language and distance barriers between us, painting helped me feel more connected to my heritage.

I still see painting as a way to connect, and am especially influenced by the feeling of nostalgia, even as I explore different subjects and styles.

Artist Statement

Growing up biracial and a first-generation American, I often felt caught in the in-between, sometimes feeling “too American to be Japanese” and other times “too Japanese to be American.” Painting gave me a sense of ownership over my identity, and allowed me to explore the tension I felt observing from both an outsider and insider perspective. I’ll often incorporate Japanese still life objects or pattern work into my paintings as a way to study and share more of my heritage. I choose common household objects in order to capture quiet, intimate moments that might otherwise be overlooked.

Likewise, my figurative work is inspired by the feeling I get looking at old family photos, at once familiar and distant, and the way our memories can almost feel more like dreams. I love lingering in that space of slight uncertainty, and hope that my paintings bring out a mix of comfort and curiosity in others, too.

About Garden of Nostalgia

Growing up biracial and a first-generation American, I often felt caught in the in-between, sometimes feeling “too American to be Japanese” and other times “too Japanese to be American.” Painting gave me a sense of ownership over my identity, and allowed me to explore the tension I felt observing from both an outsider and insider perspective. I’ll often incorporate Japanese still life objects or pattern work into my paintings as a way to study and share more of my heritage. I choose common household objects in order to capture quiet, intimate moments that might otherwise be overlooked.

Likewise, my figurative work is inspired by the feeling I get looking at old family photos, at once familiar and distant, and the way our memories can almost feel more like dreams. I love lingering in that space of slight uncertainty, and hope that my paintings bring out a mix of comfort and curiosity in others, too.

Find her on

Instagram: @ginaariko

Website: https://ginaariko.com/

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