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Studio Visit – Kaori Takamura

LOCATION: Carefree, Arizona
On Tuesday I took a ride up to Carefree, Arizona to have a wonderful homemade panini with Kaori Takamura (and her husband, John)! They have an amazing historic home with stunning desert views which would be an inspiration for any artist. Kaori’s large, and airy studio is located there, and that is where I got to see her works in progress.

I have known Kaori for a few years as members of the Eye Lounge Cooperative in Phoenix, and have always been impressed by her unique work. Before her commitment to her art, she worked as a packaging designer for international clients. She uses her graphic design history to produce colorful, bold, and graphic work combining painting, silk screening, and sewn objects. Below is a short interview for Culture Seen.

Kaori’s studio (photos: Don Roper)

Above: Studio with The Street series (photos: Don Roper)
and below: The Street series currently at the Mesa Art Center, Mesa, AZ
All work is acrylic on canvas, stitching, on steel stands. (photos: Kaori Takamura)

(CS): What inspires you?

Kaori Takamura: I am not sure if it is considered as an “inspiration” but the disaster that hit Japan in March definitely changed my thinking towards art. Needless to say, it was painful to see the devastation in my mother country and It made me think about the people’s lives, not just mine or my family’s, but on a much bigger scale and also the meaning of how to connect people. I had two exhibitions at local art centers this spring and with their help, I did a fundraising event called the Red Dot Project. Throughout this event, I created and sold over 75 small red dot paintings (inspired by the Japanese flag). I received a lot of support and encouragement throughout this activity and it was a very meaningful experience for me to discover what art can do to connect people beyond my self expression.

Above: the Red Dot Project
Below: red dot project/pray for japan
7.5″H x 7.5″W (photos: Kaori Takamura)

Do you remember when you wanted to be an artist?

I always wanted to be in an art-related field. I was a graphic (packaging) designer for many years. I started painting when I moved to Arizona about 9 years ago and immediately developed my own style with stitching and such. It is almost like I knew what I wanted to express deep in my heart and once I started, it came out naturally.

Are their any particular influences or inspiration for your work?

I am not a strict Buddhist but my artwork has influence from the Heart of Sutra, a Zen scripture for how one progresses through life with our everyday thoughts and worldly desires.

What’s next for you?

I’d like to focus on my new series this year. I have been thinking of this concept in my head quite a while, and I am finally ready to start on it and am very excited. I am hoping to create a series of these works by next year, and show them at an art space.

Kaori showed me some of her new ideas, and talked about her concepts, but was not ready to show the world as of yet. I can tell you that it sounds very interesting and exciting, so I hope you will look for her next show. Culture Seen will keep you informed.

SEWN/Typewriter Keys
Acrylic on canvas, stitching, 43″H x 63″W (photo: Kaori Takamura)




  1. […] group show (along with Nancy Robb Dunst, Kaori Fujitani, Jane Kelsey-Mapel, Sandra Luehrsen and Kaori Takamura) at the Mesa Arts Center, Kristin is working on a variety of projects. She is experimenting with […]