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Art’s Miyoshi Realizes Thailand Dream With Artistic Residency

Published: September 17, 2012

Printmaker Kimiko Miyoshi, who joined the Art Department in 2005, saw her lifelong love of travel carry her to Thailand this summer for an artistic residency sponsored by Silpakorn University and Cal Poly San Luis Obispo.

Silpakorn University, founded in Bangkok in 1933, is the leading Thai university in the fine arts and archaeology with an enrollment of around 20,000 students. Miyoshi arrived for her first visit to Thailand in July with half a dozen other CSU faculty members led by Cal Poly San Luis Obispo’s Mike Miller. The journey to Bangkok had the double goal of staging a campus exhibition titled “Past, Present and Future” and to lay the foundation for an exchange program between additional CSU campuses and Silpakorn University.

Miyoshi was pleased to participate in the residency and compared today’s Thailand to the building boom she saw growing up in her native Osaka. “When we arrived, the university made their gallery available to us as our studios and gave us desks and chairs and any art supplies we needed,” said Miyosha, who graduated from CSULB in 1996 with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree. “I chose to concentrate on the past as my contribution to the exhibition. I portrayed various extinct species drawn as blanks and their silhouettes decorated with classic Thai patterns. Every single inch of those creatures was decorated and the response was very positive.”

Tom Monteith and Kimiko
CSULB’s Kimiko Miyoshi (r) with CSU Sacramento Professor Tom Monteith.

Travel is important to Miyoshi. Her printmaking has been seen in Oregon, New York, Pennsylvania, Idaho, Illinois, Utah, New Mexico, Colorado and California. She was a visiting artist at CSU Chico last year and an artist in residence at Frans Maserrel Centram, in Kasterlee, Belgium. “I enjoy the potential I find in travel of meeting new people,” she explained. “That’s hard to do if you just stay in one place. Plus, I like cooking and enjoy good food and traveling the world is one way to satisfy my appetite.”

Miyoshi began her graphic arts career in corporate Japan 32 years ago. “Back then, we didn’t even have anything like an inkjet printer,” she recalled. “But I got the idea to make silkscreened fabric and, to prepare myself, I moved from Osaka to Tokyo to study under Tokuzo Okabe, one of Japan’s top silkscreen artists, before moving to Los Angeles in 1990.” While taking ESL classes at El Camino College in Torrance, she discovered etching and lithography and they became her favorite printmaking techniques.

“I’m trying to help students see the difference between Xerox and lithography,” she said. “I enjoy the old-fashioned quality of lithography where things are anything but high tech.” Miyoshi likes the interaction with the materials that define lithography, a method for printing using a stone (lithographic limestone). “The lithographer must be aware of the materials. The artist must know about paper, inks and stones. Still, the lithographer must retain enough flexibility to accommodate new ideas. If something happens you don’t like, you can still fix it,” she explained. “You cannot fake the gouging marks of woodcut. Every single step makes a difference in the ultimate impression. Printing is more than just striking ‘command-P.’”

Marie Thibeault and Kimiko
CSULB Professors Marie Thibeault (l) and Kimiko Miyoshi at Bang Pa-in Palace.

One of Miyoshi’s most recent projects was a limited edition portfolio of five prints she and her students created with other CSULB faculty members titled “Under Pressure.” (The title alludes to the pressure-based process of printmaking in addition to the intensity of the project.) The prints measure 11 inches by 15 inches and utilize a number of printmaking techniques including silkscreen, lithography, collagraph and embossment.

The prints include “Creep” by Art’s Bryan Crockett, printed by CSULB graduate Alex Fridrich, who has a BFA in printmaking; “Untitled (Slabs)” by Art Chair Christopher Miles, printed by Christian Ward, a MFA in printmaking student; “Tracks for Overland 10” by Art’s Fran Siegel, printed by Erynn Richardson, a MFA student in studio art (printmaking); “Export” by Art’s Marie Thibeault, printed by Jennifer Amaya, who has a BFA in printmaking; and “Old Delhi, India, 2010” by Art’s Linda Day, who passed away in August 2011. The work was printed by Andrea Ueda, who earned a BFA in printmaking. Proceeds from the project supported student travel to the annual Southern Graphics Council International Printmaking Conference held in New Orleans in the spring, where Miyoshi accompanied her students. Future proceeds from this project will directly aid other printmaking students to attend next SGCI Printmaking Conference.

Miyoshi keeps her sense of humor when she addresses CSULB’s art majors about careers in lithography. “I like to tell our students that they can make beautiful drawings on paper but, once they are finished, that copy is all they will have. In lithography, you can make copies that are original,” she laughed. “You can keep the best print and give away the others as birthday and holiday gifts and save money. With lithography, you can spread your love.”

Printmaking still kindles emotions in Miyoshi even after a lifetime of creation. “There is a part of the printing process that involves the first look at what you’ve made,” she explained. “There is a peeling back of paper for the first print that is pure discovery. When I was first starting out at El Camino Community College, I remember watching another student reach in to unpeel one of my prints and I stopped her. The privilege was mine. The moment you peel back the paper for the first time, that moment is for you.”