Artist Statements | Emerging Artist Scholarship Competition 2022

Emerging Artist Scholarship Competition


Paige AndersonPaige Anderson
In my work I search for the best way to convey emotions through pictorial storytelling. I have always been interested in the way color can change the overall mood of a composition. My compositions are drawn at an angle which draws the viewer’s eyes all around the canvas but allows them to feel as if they could be in the same setting as the subject. I don’t seek with my paintings to force the viewer to feel a particular emotion. Rather, I feel I have succeeded when my paintings provide ambiguity, allowing the viewer their own intimate resonance, a personal interpretation of the story on the wall.

“Reach” was painted during one of the most difficult times of my life. I have always been encouraged to continue reaching for the ‘light at the end of the tunnel’. This piece is inspired by what I was feeling at that time.


Gina ArikoGina Ariko
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.” This push-and-pull shows up in my work: nostalgia and a search for belonging are common themes in my paintings. In addition, I often incorporate Japanese household objects or pattern work to highlight my heritage. This collection features kitchenware passed down by my family over the last hundred years, and shibori, a traditional fabric dyeing technique that the women in my family have practiced for generations.

Ariko’s Teapot is a still life of my late obaachan’s teapot with a shibori background. It’s meant to reflect the sense of calm and respect I feel for what the women in my family have passed down to me, and to share the quiet intimacy in moments that might otherwise be overlooked.


Denise EmersonDenise L. Emerson
At the Institute of American Indian Arts (IAIA) I learned how to back, edge, and fringe my beadwork but I also took painting, drawing and design classes. At that time, I used color pencils and graph paper to create bead designs.

After many years of administrative work at the City of Seattle, I enrolled in the UW Graphic Design Program. At UW, I learned to use MS Excel and other software. I now create bead designs in MS Excel, having learned that my compositions could be as long and wide as I wanted. The designs themselves became art pieces. I study historical flat beaded bags for the contemporary beadwork that I still do and I also use those designs for prints.

Moss Babies: I came upon the historical photo of Saskatchewan Native mothers with their baby on their back while they worked – the image became the infrastructure of Moss Babies. I learned the baby diapers and carriers were made from moss; moss doesn’t cause diaper rash and even now might be an alternative to poisonous disposables.


Sophie FangSophia Fang
Blending vibrant swatches of color and complex details, my art combines whimsy and community joy to celebrate small businesses, immigrant placemaking, and food diasporas. My water- color paintings are love letters to the stories on the margins – the hyperlocal treasures around us. I craft snapshots, slices of life: a steaming bowl of soup, a home sitting quietly on a corner, a coffee shop filled with good conversation. Inspired by fluid nonlinearity of migration stories, I acknowledge the visible and invisible vestiges of labor underlying these experiences.

Nourrir (or “to nurture” in French) is an ongoing watercolor series studying spaces of nourishment in the Seattle region. These locations have historically been places that fulfill the physical, mental, and emotional needs of the body and the soul, including this greenhouse at Volunteer Park Conservatory.


Nahom GhirmayNahom Ghirmay
My artworks explore identity and emotional experiences through different mediums. I have always been fascinated with how we are able to convey countless emotions through facial expressions and body gestures. I strive to capture that through my brush strokes, charcoal marks, and color palette choices. I put a lot of emphasis in my color choice and use it to communicate feelings and evoke emotion.


In creation of my work, I use different mediums which include oil and acrylic, pastel, and charcoal. Music, listening to people’s story and nature are my main source of inspiration. My goal is to inspire people to look more carefully at things around them, things that form this beautiful and complex life.

Bonnie HopperBonnie Hopper
My work tends to be tactile. I’ve always been drawn to the idea of creating art that people can experience through touch as well as sight. My subjects are a series of observations pulled from the onrush of the everyday life. For example, a visual snapshot of something completely mundane will strike a chord and lead me on a journey. If I’m blessed, at the end of that journey there will be an extraordinary work of art.

Since I seldom know what a piece will look like until it’s finished, I can only plan so far and that’s part of the excitement. For me painting is about pleasure, mystery and sensuality – a safe port of call for my Muse to land and shed her inhibitions on the way to fulfillment and self-discovery.


Marie Okuma JohnstonMarie Okuma Johnston
My art is my safe space where I unpack what it means to navigate a world where I’m neither quite American nor Japanese. By incorporating Japanese imagery into my artwork, tying my love for my Shinto/Buddhist faith, legends and customs together with my modern-day experience, I have deepened my understanding of my own bicultural navigation and identity. Many of my current pieces focus on community healing, current events, and the presence of yōkai (spirits/ghosts) in modern society.


Mother always told me to keep my home clean as our Buddhist and Shinto family practices taught us that our homes are also our shrines. “Cleaning Out Demons” was the first piece I created after leaving my job to pursue art full time – representing the demons slowly leaving my life as I re-centered my own self-care.

Julian PenaJulian Peña
Nostalgia compels me to make art with a cast of psychedelic, eccentric, grotesque, and cute characters I call avatars. Watching anime and playing video games allowed me escape from reality – to transform into my own avatar.

This body of work explores the association of foods with emojis, gender, and sexuality. Using Photoshop and Illustrator, I create a digital composite to illustrate the intended narrative, then I block in layers of color on canvas. To achieve a more graphic line work I utilize screen-printing and ornamental surface techniques that offer textures and light-play. Many artworks even include the application of gold leaf and dry special effect pigments. My maximalist work strives to find new ways of bridging the gap between technology and an art-making practice.


Indulge the Tycoon exudes tranquility and the luxuries of safety. The penguin avatar stands on a solitary ice that’s slowly melting, seemingly unaware of the inevitable submersion of the open-ended depth of its ambiguous arctic locale.


K Taka
K Taka
“Acts” is a series of photographs that lay bare the journey through becoming and remaining human in a sick and dying world. It is a love story, a life story, and an expression of gratitude. Pulling from conscious and subconscious personal experience and Indigenous knowledge, this series invites the viewer to know the artist on an intimate level but more importantly, provides the viewer an opportunity to get to know themselves as well.


Windigo is a feared supernatural being. Fierce and frightening, the Windigo’s distinct culture of selfishness, money, power, and greed is nothing but a twisted reaction to hurt, pain, sadness, and insecurity. Trauma and hatred fan these flames but when you remove the noise and chaos masquerading as superiority and entitlement from Windigo’s grasp, you will find nothing. Just a frozen and dying heart. Never feeling like you have enough when you have everything you need? It’s terrifying.


Brian Vu – BOTTEGA B.V.
Over the past ten years, my approach to my ceramic work has shifted. Plates, bowls, and cups maintain their importance involving mundane daily tasks playing their part, an unconscious efficiency of intended function. A cup is picked up and placed down on the same spot again and again. It leaves a circular stain on a table. It is both intentional and involuntary.

I create, utilizing stand-ins that reference the performance of daily functions that become emotionless yet still essential. Objects, such as: ceramics, doors, tables, mirrors, bed frames interest me in their mundane functions. Over time, I shift my perspective of these objects from their intended functions. My interdisciplinary ceramic compositions and performance work seek to syncopate the improvisation of memory with the mundane and domestic. Ceramic looks like steel or latex looks like ceramic, syntax over diction.