Living in the Hyphen-Space
Tabi | Socks

I explore the hyphen-space, the fertile space between two cultures that results in the miscegenation of being a Japanese-Canadian, a Hapa, a person of mixed racial heritage with partial roots in Asian ancestry. Through my art I search for a greater understanding of my heritage as a Japanese-Canadian and the development of my identity and taste in aesthetics of Japanese traditions that I developed through childhood influences such as being dressed up in kimonos.

While I focus specifically on myself as a Yonsei, a fourth-generation Japanese-Canadian descending from the Japanese Diaspora and its Nikkei members that first relocated to Canada, my artwork is open to a more universal interpretation. As Canada becomes increasingly multi-ethnic many people can relate to similar intercultural processes and cultural mixing.

Western Wabi-Sabi
Stem Extension Sprocket Pooling Water

During my artist residency at the AGA in Amsterdam, I explored the Japanese aesthetic of Wabi-Sabi. This tradition is multi-dimensional, difficult to describe in words, and is best experienced as a feeling. It is a beauty of things imperfect, impermanent, incomplete, and believes that things are in a constant, never-ending state of becoming… or dissolving. To experience Wabi-Sabi one must slow down, be patient and observe things closely.

In this body of work I have attempted to intuitively capture the Wabi-Sabi aesthetic of simplicity, asymmetry, asperity and flux of all things. I wanted to encapsulate an essence of the Netherlands that I experienced during my stay, while showing an awareness of the transience of our world – the bittersweet feeling that accompanies the passing of time.

Ironically, Wabi-Sabi is sometimes related to the anti-aesthetics that refer to the Western movements of beat, punk, grunge and garage. For me, it was often through the graffiti filled walls and band posters that lined the cobble stoned, bike-filled streets and canals that I observed, and felt, the essence of my Amsterdam experience. And so through the rough textures, variegated and random forms of various bicycle components, streets, walls, skies and canals of the city, I find my essence of ʻWesternʼ Wabi-Sabi in my own fleeting moment in Amsterdam.

Night Watch Link Cycle Wisp


Other Hapas can indentify me as half something with alarming frequency.

A Friend Once Described Me As Ethnically Ambiguous

People really have no idea about


Please contact me with any questions regarding my artwork!

© 2012 Jana Sasaki