Altered cultural and everyday objects express liminality

At the reception, I had a few people want to have access to my artist statement,
so I decided to post it here.

photo by Susan Friedman

I dedicate this exhibition, “In Liminal Space”
at Enso Art Gallery 
to my mother Doris Shintani,
and to all beings in the midst of transformation

Liminality: “…in-between situations and conditions that are characterized by
the dislocation of established structures, the reversal of hierarchies, and uncertainty
 regarding the continuity of tradition and future outcomes.” ~ Arnold van Gennep 

I alter cultural and everyday objects to construct stories to reflect our current times and to offer space to ponder and question. These installations are an expression of the ongoing process of destruction and creation.

In Japan, when a woman puts on a kimono it becomes part of her body. Though the kimono appears to be a flowing and simple gown, the layers that bind the woman’s breasts and the rest of her body makes for a very constricting uniform. Breathing is difficult and only small steps may be taken. The restrictive nature of wearing of it is thought to instill tranquility and peacefulness.

As I cut away the red flowers and leaves from the ivory kimono, I felt somewhat uncomfortable. I am destroying a symbol of my Japanese culture. I wonder, who was the woman who wore it? What was her life like?

I cut out the black flower pattern from this used kimono that was gifted to me.

photo by Susan Friedman

The cutting becomes a meditation. I feel a connection to the larger community of women who create and mend clothing. However, I was doing it in reverse…I was taking it apart.

My alterations reflect the loosening connection to my ancestry and culture, and the kimono is reduced to a skeleton, a web. The garment still maintains its elegant and simple structure even after deconstruction. I contemplate making more breathing space in my life to support a simple, healthy, and creative life path.

The kimono installation became a premonition of the Japanese devastation that was yet to come. The deconstructed garments represent not only the personal space but also the liminal space where the transformation of tradition, culture, and structure takes place.

This is the first kimono I cut up. I meditated on the loss of connection with my ancestors and culture

photo by Susan Friedman

The altered umbrellas question our concept of safety and shelter in a world of seemingly unending disasters. I long for an uncomplicated time when holding something over our heads protected us from what fell out of the sky.

The “Pearls Left Behind” installation created out of pizza rounds, conveys the connection of two war times – America’s war with Japan in the 1940’s and the current Iraqi wartime. Both of these events resulted in racial profiling, prejudice, deception, and death. Does history repeat or does it simply rhyme?

The “Vision Quest” ladder reflects my optimism that this threshold offers opportunity for evolution of human consciousness.

I hope my exhibit at Enso Gallery stimulates contemplation and discussion. I welcome your feedback.

 photo by Susan Friedman


Gifts of peace are worth seeing

You can still see The 2nd Annual Doctors Without Borders Silent Art Auction at MCoffee in Half Moon Bay until December 29 at noon. At that point the bids will close. We are at around $1,500 so far, up $500 from last years event. Even if you are not in the market for art, please go take a gander at this terrific showing of 21 local coastside artists. Most of them took on the challenge to create a new piece over 30 days which focused on the idea of a “gift of peace”. Below you will see an art sampling slide show.

And just to give you an idea of what your donation to Doctors Without Borders can buy:

  • $35 buys 2 meals a day for 200 children
  • $50 buys vaccinations for 50 people against meningitis, measles, polio or other deadly epidemics
  • $100 buys infection-fighting antibiotics to treat nearly 40 wounded children
  • $500 buys a medical kit containing basic drugs, supplies, equipment, and dressings to treat 1,500 patients for three months
  • $1000 buys emergency medical supplies to aid 5,000 disaster victims for an entire month

Lisa, go for it!

I wanted to post Lisa Petrides story and could not say it any better than she did in a recent email, so I am just going to publish it as is! I am proud to be a friend to this dynamic Coastsider woman!

Dear Friends,

As you may have heard, I have recently made a commitment to complete a triathlon to raise money for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society’s efforts to cure leukemia, lymphoma, Hodgkin’s disease and myeloma, and to improve the quality of life for patients and their support networks of family, friends, and caregivers.

I am joining the tens of thousands of people who participate each year in the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society’s Team in Training (TNT), which provides phenomenal professional coaching and training for this and other endurance events. In return for this training, I am committed to raising $10,000. With your help I know I can easily reach this goal.

Back in January, when I was seriously contemplating whether or not I could find the time, energy, and inner drive to just jump in and go for it, I wrote in my Facebook account (yes, you can all find me there!): “Lisa is wondering if she really is crazy enough to sign up for a triathlon.” Within the hour, I had received numerous postings of support and encouragement, one my favorite postings being from one of my staff members at ISKME who said: “Keri knows her boss is crazy. Go for it!”

That unconditional support as well as my own deeply personal experience with the diseases that the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society seeks to cure compelled me to act. I’m participating in this event in honor of all individuals who are battling blood cancers; however, my own personal story involves three amazing women. One of my best friends, Lisa Hixson, succumbed to non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma over five years ago. Her company, Adventurous Spirit, among other things, used to take groups to Hawaii to swim with the wild dolphins in Kealakekua Bay. At the time of her death, she was trying to start a program to take school-age gang members to swim with the dolphins as a way to provide a transformative experience for them. Another dear friend and mentor, Linda Powell, was diagnosed with Multiple Myeloma shortly after we both left Columbia University. Among many lessons she taught me, her message of not giving up on living the life you dream for is still a beacon for me today. Happily, after participating in two stem cell transplant clinical trials, she is cancer free. Lastly, my mother was recently diagnosed with Myelodysplastic Syndrome, a pre-leukemic blood disease for which the Society is also fighting for a cure. It doesn’t get any more personal than this.

As you might have figured out by now, I felt like I simply didn’t have a choice but to participate! This is why I am here now asking for your support. Please join me in supporting this important cause. You can make an online donation easily and securely at: You will receive email confirmation of your donation (which is tax-deductible) and I will be notified as soon as you make your donation. Alternatively, you can send a check or money order made out to the “Leukemia and Lymphoma Society” to: Lisa Petrides, 323 Harvard Avenue, Half Moon Bay, CA, 94019.

And for those of you who are able to make the trip, please consider coming out to California to cheer me on at the Wildflower Triathlon in Monterey County on May 4, 2008 where I will complete the Olympic distance event (roughly, a 1-mile swim, 25-mile bike ride and 6.5-mile run, in very hilly terrain!)

I thank you in advance for your support and generosity.

With gratitude,

The Lisa and Leslie team benefit dinner

Have a yummy dinner at the Enso Kitchen Club in Half Moon Bay, while contributing to a great cause! Two Enso community members, Lisa Petrides and Leslie Hunt, are hosting a fundraising event for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society’s Team In Training Efforts. They are both currently preparing for a triathlon on May 4th. Let’s cheer them on!

Enso Kitchen Club
Monday, April 7th, 5:30-8:00pm
7pm, a short presentation




thanks.jpgWell the holidays are upon us and with that often comes stress and money issues. I am facing this year’s season with a new goal: to look at it as a time to remember what I am grateful for and to express that gratitude.


I must say that I am extremely grateful for my community. The community of Half Moon Bay is a big part of my life with all the colorful, fun, and caring people in it.

I remember when I lived in my condo in Pacifica and was working in Silicon Valley, I had no time to meet my neighbors and spent big bucks on dog walking. Now, when we went away to New Mexico, we had friends jump in to feed and check in on our kittens, water our garden and care for our house plants. Everyone did this free of charge, as a neighborly gesture. Getting together to walk on the coastside trail to see the sunset is a common shared joy or an impromptu bonfire can happen in a moment, as well as an offer to help with computer stuff. Enso Yoga Center is the warm and cozy and nurturing meeting place for friends to gather for food and music and yoga and art. It is the crown jewel in our community. M Coffee is another place for friends to meet and debate and read and see art, oh and drink coffee too.

My artist community is an important and vital force that keeps me creating and thinking and being true to my art. We all learn and encourage and inspire one another. I totally respect and am excited by what my art comrades are doing in the world and for themselves. The JFKU Art and Consciousness group and HMB artists make up this incredible support system.

My partner, Ander is very dear to me. He keeps me going with challenging thoughts and feedback about the world and unseen goings on by our not too scrupulous government. He is my confidante, my protector, my builder and handyman, my buddy in life and partner in exploring new places and experiences. We are diligent in keeping to the path of sustainability and making a small footprint with the way we live and energy we use. This is not always the easy or comfortable route, but is a goal we stick to, in our part to help the world.

I am very grateful for my family. We all love each other very much and can count on one another in a pinch. I very much cherish my nieces and feel fortunate to have them in my life. My parents spent a great deal of their lives raising me in a safe and caring manner and providing me with a warm and secure home. They put an incredible focus on education and striving to be my best. They always gave me confidence that I could do anything I put my mind to. I am also very grateful to them for exposing me to my Japanese heritage, while allowing us to integrate into the American life. We took many family camping trips and also sojourns into San Francisco to theater happenings, aquariums, restaurants, and museums. I think we got a very well rounded view of life, even though we grew up in a small central valley town.

All of these connections are part of what makes me who I am and provides me with a feeling of belonging to something that is larger than myself. This is worth more than all the presents from the mall I could ever receive in a life time!

I challenge you now to write about the things you are grateful for. Believe me, it really makes your heart glow!