Sunday Walk
Dark Angels

Urban Magic

Misako Inaoka

Here's another sculptor whose work I like: Misako Inaoka. Born in Japan, Inaoka studied art in Rhode Island, California, and Rome, and now lives in San Francisco. Her sculpture is a bit quirkier than the Irish artist Fidelma Massey's (which I wrote about below), and less overtly spiritual, yet it too is inspired by the relationship between humankind and the natural world.

"My interests arise from the boundary between what we call natural and artificial," says Inaoka. "I observe the physical and social environment in detail, to find hidden beauty and peculiarity-- things such as a cell phone antenna in the shape of a pine tree, birds that are not native to the area, or moss growing in a crack of cement sidewalk.

"The nature I notice survives in different forms, by adapting, adjusting and mutating to its new urban setting. This manipulated urban nature strongly influences my recent works. I emphasize the subtle details of surviving nature and exaggerate their illogicality to cultivate my own version of invented creatures and landscapes. My world is not a creation of total imagination, but is a projection of the reality in an absurd form."

Substitute the word "fantastical" for "absurd," and it seems to me that one could say roughly the same about the survival and adaptation of myth in the form of urban Mythic Fiction (a.k.a. Urban Fantasy, of the Charles de Lint sort). I love all these art forms, both visual and literary, in which magical imagery adapts itself to the modern world.

Visit Inaoka's website to see more of these critters, exhibited at an installation at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in 2008. The sculptures move, which you can see in the littlevideo of the installation.