artist spotlight

share your creative practice:
in conversation with FUMI AMANO

What does it mean to you to join the North Lands Creative network and be part of building a community for glass?


I’m honored to be a part of this film festival. It has been difficult to find the opportunity to show glass art which is related to performance art since it is not common in the glass art world. North Lands Creative is such a great place for all creative people. It is very inspiring to see other female artists working with both glass and video work.


Tell us about your work. What influences translate into your art practice?


I created the performance work “Voice” in 2017 after I participated in the women’s march in Washington D.C. I was thinking about what I can say about feminism as a Japanese woman living in the United States. It has been difficult for me to build a healthy relationship due to people’s misconceptions, especially those related to Asian women. To overcome our issues in the relationship, I created a complex glass house to perform inside.


What initially captured your imagination about glass?


Glass is a subtle material to me. I can see people behind a sheet of clear glass, people can see me as well, but we cannot touch each other directly. It is as if there is an invisible filter between people, or a thin sheer membrane of a skin that protects us all from our surroundings… and from each other. To me, glass is a metaphor for human relationships.


What’s the significance of the handmade to you?


I had studied glass as a traditional craft material when I was in Japan. I was taught that technique, materiality and the making process are all very important components to developing my creative skills. Since then, I’ve always tried to be involved in the entire process of my art making to better understand the procedures used in all mediums. To me, handmade is about knowing the materials and the processes involved in the making.


What was your route to becoming an artist?


I attended several art schools to learn different techniques and perspectives in glass making. After graduating, I participated in several different residency programs around the United States. These experiences helped me develop my art practice and allowed me more opportunities to engage in the art community. I’m currently living in Seattle, a place that many well-known glass artists call their home. The local glass community in Seattle is wonderful and helps me learn about glass art and build upon my art community.


What is your chosen medium and what are your techniques?


I have been using old materials such as recycled window frames and antique lampshades to create sculptures since 2016. I use mending techniques to give these castoff materials a second life. I salvage the materials destined for the garbage and utilize them for my art.

How would you describe your work and where do you think it fits within the sphere of contemporary glass?


As a Japanese woman living in the United States, I often struggle with communication here since English is not my first language. As a result of these struggles I’ve become very interested in the subject of communication.
I have been thinking a lot about how I can combine performance art and glass art. Glass is a perfect material to show the difficulties of human relationships. For example, utilizing a sheet of glass as an invisible filter between people. I began doing performance art as a way to express the intense feeling that being loved by someone has given me. Although I’m not sure where this type of work would fit into the spheres of contemporary glass, I strive to break down the preconceived notions of traditional glass art with both my artwork and performance art.


Tell us a bit about your process and what environment you like to work in?


My art practice always starts from the initial concept. I like to be active within my communities, such as the Asian community and Glass community here in Seattle. Engaging in these communities not only allows me to listen to their voices but it also encourages me to rethink about myself.


Who do you look up to when it comes to aesthetics?


As a sculptor, I look up to Kohei Nawa and Tony Cragg.


What currently inspires you and which other artists do you admire and why?


The global coronavirus pandemic definitely inspires me a lot as an artist. The overall uncertainty surrounding this pandemic generates a lot of negative energy around me. In addition, social justice and the subject of racial equity also make me think a lot about the concept of my art.
I admire Yoko Ono. Her work is deeply inspiring to me as a female Japanese artist living in the United States. Her concept of feminism and artwork related to the Fluxus movement really resonated with me and motivates me to build my identity to survive in this country.


How are you experiencing the Covid-19 pandemic in your country? To what extent has your everyday life as an artist changed in lockdown?


In the United States, the situation of Covid-19 is one of the hardest hit places around the world. Due to the pandemic, instead of making large-scale sculptures, I’ve shifted to making smaller stained glass pieces. These don’t require a lot of space and are easy to manage without a studio space, since I’m stuck at home. Rather than creating beautiful stained glass work from scratch, I’ve found myself becoming more and more interested in the process of mending recycled stained glass. Through the mending of stained glass, I explore the concept of rebuilding our broken world.


Fumi Amano was born in Aichi, Japan. She learned about glass making as a traditional Japanese craft and worked diligently to master all techniques presented to her. In order to learn more about glass and expand her horizons, she moved to the United States in 2013. During her graduate program at Virginia Commonwealth University, she faced many difficulties as both a foreigner and as a Japanese woman living in the United States. She was frustrated by the failure of the communication and prejudice towards Asian women by people. This frustration ignited in her a passion to make various forms of art, such as sculpture and performance art, to express a feeling she cannot explain in words.