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Meet Nanse Kawashima

Meet Nanse Kawashima

by Chika Kobari

Nanse Kawashima is a Japanese-born artist based in New York. In her collage painting series, Nanse works with printed ephemera from multiple source materials and references, non-specific to a moment and place. Instead, the series of iconographic paintings is reflective of Nanse's mental landscape, registering her movements from place to place; having grown up as a transplant in El Salvador, Jamaica, and Hawaii.

Through a process of isolating parts of the subject from their background, the subject is decontextualized. The sum of surreal images depict a deep connection between the universal and subjective, the conscious and unconscious mental pictures of Kawashima that are magical, haunting and sometimes nostalgic. Through her moving, Nanse was constantly challenged to reflect on the iconographies of different people and places, but also to locate herself within the various environments she found herself in.

Who is your hero of fiction?

I often like characters with Indomitable female courage and strength, usually a loner who adapts into the times and environment throughout their journey . But still never really belonging anywhere or to any person(s) except solely to themselves. Like Circe by Madeline Miller or Orlando from Virginia Woolf. I guess my unusual upbringing moving around to different countries resonate with this. Always having to go through the discomfort of being "different" every time I was in a new school. Whether it's the way I spoke, dressed, ate, my mannerism etc. Also, even my life here in NYC, I have gone through so many phases, interests, professions, and have met so many people from all walks of life. And I will continue to evolve into my own self forever and ever. As age,  I get to love and embrace this part of myself more. Ironically, both Circe and Orlando live almost eternally?

Collaboration Project: Photographed by Balarama Heller / Collaged by Nanse Kawashima

What is your greatest regret?

I have no regrets. Every shitty thing that has ever happened to me has been a blessing in disguise or a wonderful lesson to learn from, a challenge that has pushed me to be brave and take a leap into a transformative experience. A general regret I have, is perhaps not being able to say a proper good bye with a handful of loved ones I've lost in my life. Some of it happened suddenly, and it really makes you realize how fragile life can be. 

by Chika Kobari

What is your greatest extravagance?

The amazing people that surround me and support me. I am so very lucky to have so many friendships that continue to expand and deepen. They all have various interests and are in different fields. I get to exchange so much valuable knowledge and experience with them. Whether the friendship is transient or virtual or in person, the bond I get to create with them is priceless. Also the love and support I get from my brother, mother, and deceased grandmother.

What is the quality you most like in a man or a woman?

Ingenuity. I love a warm-hearted nerd, they could be a nerd about anything as long as they are passionate about it. Especially if it's about something I don't know much about that pique my interest.




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