Tenyoh ( Ms. )

Artist Statement

It is difficult to illustrate human complexities artistically. However, I believe the messages that my art conveys are indispensable to society. Our humanity cannot grow without opportunities to reflect upon ourselves. Art is my vehicle to communicate that.

My former occupation as an international health-care worker provided me with opportunities to associate with people with diverse backgrounds. The hands-on experience taught me that emotional commonalities were more striking than our differences. I believe this is true between individuals, across different cultures, and throughout human history. Therefore, my art does not represent any particular group of people. It depicts human nature collectively, capturing both strength and weakness that may co-exist in the same heart. Even though my choice of art media has shifted from oil painting to ceramic sculpting, the central theme has remained unchanged.

The first five images in this submission are from the latest joint exhibit TAKE ME TO YOUR MOON: JOURNEYS INTO THE WORLD OF DEMENTIA. The next three were created last year, capturing moments that can happen to anyone regardless of culture or socioeconomic status. The last two are from my Little Buddha series. They are more marketable than my serious work. Saggar-fired figurines like the one photographed with me in the profile are designed to sell in gift or online shops.

Texts accompany some of my sculptures in order to make the viewing more meaningful. The following writing goes with the first image UNFAILING LOVE.

In a nursing home where I worked, residents had half an hour to eat a meal. Walter was one of a few who needed to be syringe-fed. One day, his wife visited, and we set his tray in a corner away from the busy cafeteria. When she requested a spoon, I asked, “Does Walter open his mouth?” She answered, “Yes, you may have to wait a little, but he does.”

The lunch ended, and other residents were back in bed for a nap. Walter’s wife was still spoon-feeding him, restoring some dignity to the life of this old rancher.


In Japan, where I was born, I studied sumi-e (brush and ink) technique. In the USA I turned my attention to oils. Since 2012, I have been pursuing a full-time career as a self-taught ceramic sculptor. After having been juried into nationally recognized sculpture shows, I now seek solo or joint exhibits regionally. In addition, I teach clay hand-building (from intro to sculpting) to adults and teens in schools and non-profit organizations. My recently discovered passion is to share my love of clay work with the blind and visually-impaired or with adults with all intellectual abilities.