RP artist knows how to blend together Japanese culture with modern art
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By Natalie Gray  June 6, 2014 12:00 am

Waka Ozawa knows a little something about blending.

She was born in Japan and began her transition to the United States in 1981 as an exchange student. She has since acquired American citizenship and lived in Rohnert Park for the past 10 years, but she had never forgotten her Japanese heritage. Ozawa has created the personal specialty of fusing traditional Japanese art with modern art.

“It’s a mix of East and West kind of thing,” said Ozawa of her art.

This unique incorporation comes from Ozawa’s personal talent of recycling antique Japanese silk kimonos and incorporating them into modern works of art, whether that be new jackets, scarves, purses or other forms of clothing. Her specialty is creating tradition with a modern flair, or modern art with a traditional expression, depending on how you want to look at it.

“It’s a long process,” said Ozawa of her technique. “Each (finished piece) is its own, one of a kind.”

Ozawa creates each piece of her own accord. She finds the kimonos from antique markets in Japan, when she visits her family once a year. Each kimono must be taken apart in Japan before returning to the US; it would otherwise be impossible to transport their weight and size. Next, Ozawa designs a pattern personal to each piece, so that no two pieces are the same.

Ozawa has been creating her wearable art for more than 30 years now, beginning when she lived in San Francisco. Back then, she sold her work as a vendor at Ghirardelli Square. Now, she sells her work at crafts fairs, but still sells to returning, loyal customers.

“It’s a long, long history,” she said, “It amazes me I’m still doing it. I have so many customers for years; we are growing old together! When a customer comes back and says ‘I love it,’ it makes me feel good.”

Ozawa will be featured at the Live Oak Park Fair in Berkeley on June 14-15. The fair dedicates itself to presenting unique, beautiful art and their creators and Ozawa says she has been returning to the fair for more years than she can remember. Admission to the fair is free and to find out more, you can visit www.liveoakparkfair.com. 

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