Alone with Materials

Vol. 10 Tomoko Amaki Abe, Brooklyn, March 2021

Enjoy the mixed-media artist Tomoko Amaki Abe’s new body of work on view at A.I.R Gallery in New York City (through April 18).

In this video, Tomoko talks about her delicate glass, ceramic, print, and video works in an atmospheric installation revealed in the dark. The exhibition, entitled "Respire," resonates with the current pandemic, confronting the growing tension between our bodies and the environment and exploring themes of deterioration and regeneration. Tomoko skillfully utilizes pigments, paper, glass powder, and fire to create inspirational artifacts symbolizing our fragile existence, often working with decaying leaves and common waste which has washed ashore.

Tomoko Amaki Abe graduated from the Edinburgh College of Art and obtained BA in painting with First Class Honour, during which she also spent half a year at Escuela de Bellas Artes in Salamanca, Spain, on the ERASMUS scholarship. She has shown her works in many exhibitions both domestically and internationally. She was a recipient of the Bullseye glass residency in 2018, which culminated in a solo show in 2019, as well as a recipient of the UrbanGlass studio residency in 2020. Tomoko lives in Rye, NY with her husband Naoki, furry friend Marlo and sometimes her two daughters, Yuika and Noe.

"Respire" — a solo exhibition at A.I.R Gallery, March 19 - April 18, 2021

In her Transpermanent series (2018), Abe layers images of leaves made with glass powder over sheets of solid glass. Sculptural leaf forms emerge from the work's surfaces. During the firing, these sculptures inspired by nature crack and fuse. The works feature two split halves separated by crevasses; on either side of the expanse, Abe's leaves, of varying levels of transparency, rest in a state between decay and renewal.

Tomoko Amaki Abe, Transpermanent Blue, 2018, silkscreened, slumped, and fused glass, 17 x 27 x 3.5 in. Photo by Sebastian Bach

In Blood to Milk (2019), two entangled branch-shaped loops, made of wood and cast glass, float in space like an ethereal nest. The seamless transition, from wood to translucent red glass to opaline and back again, references a hermetic cycle of deterioration and regeneration: the life-sustaining connection between mother and child through which the mother’s blood turns to milk and provides the child with nutrients.

Tomoko Amaki Abe, Blood to Milk, 2019, cast glass, wood 2.5 x 6.6 x 1.5 ft. Photo by the artist

Silver Lining – Six Pack Holders (2021) consists of suspended chains made of materials ranging from clay and glass to wool, each a cast of plastic six pack rings in various sizes. Their entangled shape recalls the human body, contorted in pain or nestled in comfort. The work’s heterogeneous materials create a seamless infinity loop, onto which is projected a video of the sun’s rays piercing a sky of gray clouds.

Tomoko Amaki Abe, Silver Lining - Six Pack Holders 2021, kiln cast glass, cyanotype on porcelain, wool, film projection, 36 x 18 x 6 in. Sound art by Yuika Abe, Photo by Sebastian Bach

"My work is broadly in the theme of deterioration and regeneration, often inspired by evolving and decaying facets of nature as well as man-made artifacts, with particular attention placed on the current shifts in perception regarding the relationship between our body and our environment. My interest in beauty beyond what is visible led me to use translucent materials such as porcelain, paper, glass, and film projection, exploring the relationship between shadow and light, the visible and invisible. I want to confront the tension between transience and permanence, surface and depth, gravity and non-gravity, and ultimately, the fragility of our existence. " — Tomoko Amaki Abe

Source: A.I.R Gallery "Respire" press release text