Joe Suzuki

Hailing from Southern California, Joe Suzuki pushes past post - modernism with his eye popping enamel sculptures and traditional Japanese scrolls. Suzuki finds himself at the intersection of his Japanese heritage and reflection in the hurdles of assimilation as a first generation immigrant. Not feeling a sense of belonging to either group, Suzuki has coined his new heritage as 'Japamerican'. His work largely focuses on cultural misunderstandings of his Japanese heritage and how his culture's development has affected his own identity. 

What’s your preferred medium to express yourself and you work? How did you come into
working that way? 

 I work with all types of materials and media. I don't have a preferred medium. I was originally trained as a painter but I wanted to do so much more than just painting. When I started my grad program, I started to expand my repertoire, and I've been working this way ever since.

Where did you grow up and do you think that’s affected, at all, your vision as an artist?

 I was born in Japan and immigrated to the US when I was 12.  I consider my work to be a product of my particular bicultural upbringing/experiences, so yes, that has affected my art and how I view the world.

What was your dream growing up as a child?

When I was in high school, I wanted to be a heavy metal guitarist.  

What has become most important to you or your work at this moment in your life? 

 My immediate family has been and  will always be the most important thing in my life. Being a middle class dad often informs my art so I embrace it.

Is there any specific moment(s) or memory in your life that pushed you definitively towards the arts or to pursue your creative ambitions? 

 No, there wasn't a defining moment for me. I was always a creative kid. I played music throughout my teen years so pursuing visual art was just an extension of that. But I wasn't planning on having an actual career as an artist. I wanted to be an art teacher mostly but along the way I started to show my art and here I am.  Making art and teaching are my passion and I feel blessed to be able to do both. 

Who or what would you say is your biggest inspiration(s) and how do you think they/it have influenced your work? 

I get my inspirations from different sources.  They are everywhere and I can't list them all. 

What does your work mean to you? If anything at all? 

Every piece means different things to me but the meanings are always changing. I enjoy hearing other people tell me what my work means to them. 

What is your definition of ‘art’, even if it’s total bullshit? 

That's a loaded questions. lol.