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The artist Aya Uekawa works to display things unseen. Her sketches and paintings are a reflection of psychological innerworkings—expressions of feelings like fear, vulnerability, and hope. Today, her perspective is shifting with the pandemic, and her works are responsive examples of how she’s feeling.
Whitewall caught up with Uekawa to hear how she’s staying creative, and how her inspiration comes from within.
WHITEWALL: How are you doing?
AYA UEKAWA: I felt okay until a couple of weeks ago when coronavirus started spreading extremely rapidly and started seeing increasing numbers of victims. This morning on the New York Time’s obituaries, it had so many people listed as victims of COVID-19. It is honestly getting depressing.
WW: What are you listening to, reading, watch?
AU: I have been keeping eyes on the news for our safety. I listen to informative YouTube videos in Japanese. I think hearing my native language is comforting to me.
WW: What are you cooking?
AU: We usually eat mostly vegetarian based meals that help us to feel good; not to victimize other animals so often.
WW: How are you staying connected?
AU: I keep in touch with people through texts, Skype, and emails.
WW: How are you staying creative? Are you able to make work at this time?
AU: It has been difficult to focus due to deep anxiety. There is definitely a shift of conceptual perspective after experiencing the pandemic. My work has been already focusing on psychological expressions, but it is more so and more personally connected to the process and imagery.
In the first image, the painting had been created before the pandemic got serious. The theme is looking for utopia, but it is rather trapped comfortably in the idea of utopia.
The second and third images of a drawing shows my focus on psychological aspect of facial expression and the slightly passive position of the figure. The last image is my most recent small drawing after my psychological shift. It shows rather honest fear, vulnerability, passiveness, and searching for hope.
WW: Where are you finding hope or inspiration?
AU: I believe, after the pandemic started, my inspiration depends more on the depth of my psychology rather than events or other visual resources.