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Tortoise Travels: Studio Check-In With Artist, Mitsuru Koga (English Language Version)

E: You're an artist and the father of two young childrenHow are you and your family during this strange time? Has your daily life changed since Covid?

M: My atelier is at home and I work alone, so initially I didn't think things would particularly change.  But in reality, my children's school closed and my wife started to work from home, so the whole family now spends their days at home, and it's hard to be alone.

To enjoy the time we have together, we do things like crafts, growing vegetables, picking up insects, and activities we wouldn't normally be able to do like a workshop.
Because we live near the sea, I'll choose a time and place where there are no people, and sometimes I play with my children in the sea and it helps change my mood.
Schools are reopening in Japan now, and we're gradually regaining the same sort of productive time we had before as a family.


E: What made you want to first create flatworks and flatboxes?  What is your thought process when you're making a piece or collecting ideas for a piece?  Can you describe the physical process of making a box to us?


M: It all began when I participated in a special exhibition where I made works using a cardboard cutter.  This led to me noticing the various cardboard boxes around me, and I was intrigued.  I wanted to make them into works.
I think it's interesting that with the addition of human hands, artificial objects can become unique, just like natural objects.
My process is that I constantly observe cardboard boxes around me and then recreate what I find unique about them using silk screen and tape by hand.

E: Has this period of Covid made it easier or harder to create new works?  Do you feel more creative at this time or influence by these world events?

M: Life and production are connected, and both are important, so I'm still in the middle of trial and error. There is still more to learn *laughs*.  

I recently noticed that in my life of wearing a mask and avoiding touching things as much as possible, I unconsciously avoided feeling the atmosphere or touching things directly.
You can see things with your eyes, but I felt once again that the air, the signs, and the feel of touching them are important.
Now, while being careful about my own safety and others, I am consciously trying to feel what is there.

E: Your work often makes us, the viewer, feel a bit of wonder, but also a sense of surprise because what we first see with our eyes is not always what's in front of us.  What was your inspiration behind creating wire trees from electrical cords?  What was your inspiration behind your atelier paint brush sculpture?

M: Everything starts with observing what is in our daily lives. You may often think of natural objects and artificial objects separately, but I feel that they are connected somewhere, and I want to find something in common and make it into a work...

In each work, I photograph the trees I find in familiar places and make a tree following their natural shape.

E: Your work also often shows us the interesting relationship between humans and nature, like in your sea-stone vases or driftwood dinosaur.  You bring nature closer to us with these works, but also show human influence on nature.  How do you feel about nature and people, and how does nature influence your creativity and work?

M: I always want to be humble with nature. At the same time, I also want to value the meaning of my existence as a human being. 
When I go to pick up a stone, the stone has no words, but it gives me a lot of awareness. 
When Covid became a part of our lives, I would go to pick up a stone and think to myself how the stone was completely unaware of the world's current situation and that it had been there existing on its own for a long time. 
Given what is happening in the world, I
 am relieved to be able to connect with something that exists in a different flow of time and space.

E: What are you most excited to do after Covid is over?  Is there something you miss doing that you're happy to start again?

M: I can't think of anything because I'm the type of person that can't imagine the future so much.  I want to be able to enjoy what I can do now as much as possible, not what I can't do.  
With that said, 
I do want to see people again and laugh out loudly, so I hope that we do return to normal someday!


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