Sumiyo Toribe

Young children are often pure of mind and heart. Their exploration and experiences are reflected in my paintings. The images reference Japanese culture and landscape, the culture and land of my origin. Often there is a little girl, daughter-like; who represents the way one marvels at the history and presence of nature and God, but with innocence, playfulness, and curiosity. The images are mostly observation of my daughter’s experience in Japan, but also recollect my childhood memories.

The scenes include religious statues both Shinto and Buddhist in nature. In Japan there is a blend of these two forms of worship, which has certain complexities and beauty. These are not religious paintings by any means. They represent all the great history, sights, natural beauty and places I have visited with my family. The statues, shrines, temples, and sometimes action are all inspired by actual places and experience, but reconstituted to bring new meaning to the memory of these experiences. Sometimes I feel like the baby buddhas and kitsune (foxes) are guiding the little girl in the paintings, other times like they keep her company, and still at other times they are her playmates – protective, strong, and warm rather than stoic. Loose and expressive mark making supports the works energy flow, movement, and sense of memory. Incorporation of a drawing quality reveals some detail. The large format invites viewers to join the little girl’s exploration.

Children’s spirits are strong and clear. Their pure innocent heart obsesses me. They seem to connect naturally at those high-spirited places in the paintings. I aspire to reestablish that innocence and connectivity in my own life.

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