Sawako Ninomiya was born on August 12, 1980. She is an embroidery artist, based in Tokyo. She works on different projects, teaching embroidery to women living in poor areas of India as well as planning exhibitions and making art for the exhibitions. She has organized two group shows at Hello! Good Morning! in Portland, Oregon to introduce Japanese artists in Portland.
“I like the ease of doing embroidery anytime, anywhere, with needles and threads. I embroidered on the cloth with a sense of painting with needles and threads, so when I apply embroidery to clothes, I can wear a picture and go anywhere. I also like the wearable art, the art that can be moved.”
“The theme and motif of what you want to create will change with what you are interested in then. When I was interested in people, I made “World Famous from A to Z” with embroidery. The face of a person who accomplished a great feat is very unique and I feel that spirit and passion overflow from its expression. When I this exhibition, I offered customers to bring in their items (mainly clothes) and I would embroider a famous person on their item. When customers bring pictures of the famous person that they want to be embroidered, I listen to their stories and think about the design.”
“One customer asked me to make a shirt with the artist Barry McGee. I embroidered Barry with the typical pattern he uses in his artworks.”
“I often produce mountains as a motif, but in particular, I’m attracted to the snowy mountains. I like the atmosphere that is great and rigorous, as well as severe, and in addition to the beauty of great nature. Sewing a mountain with embroidery makes me feel like I am challenging the harsh mountain climbing, and when it is completed it will make me feel like I succeeded in climbing. I really do not climb the snowy mountain, so it’s all an image, but I long for the mountain’s great existence.”
“I run an art gallery in Tokyo called Tambourin Gallery. The gallery started in 2010 with the motto of artist Hiroshi Nagai, “to do anything you can express”. Since then, it was operated by several people, but I took over three years ago. The genre has a lot of illustration, but it is used in various ways, such as painting, art, installation, photo, 3D, fashion, as a photo studio. Every summer, in the title “Human Museum”, we are planning an exhibition called “FANTASTIC DAYS” where Human is the theme and exhibition with a tambourine as a canvas, and I ask more than 100 artists to participate. I always aim for an art place with a positive and cozy atmosphere.”
“In addition, by holding an exhibition for two consecutive years in Portland, I felt that there were a lot of people who are attracted by the gentle atmosphere of this place, with a refined sense, warm atmosphere of people, and who are interested in Japanese art. I would like to continue to introduce Japanese artists to Portland, and I think that they want to live a life going back and forth between Tokyo and Portland.”
“I can do the work of embroidery with needle and thread anywhere in the world. Also, with needle and thread, I can communicate beyond words. Since I began to realize that, I want to use needle and thread to communicate with various people in various countries. I would love to try embroidery with people in Africa and see what colors are born.”
Collaboration with artist Naoyuki Minamide, “NANDE”.
Sawako Ninomiya is available for embroidery commissions. You can find her here:
Sawako and her embroidered mountain. It was patterned after the famous mountain, K2. The total length of the yarn was approximately the same height as the mountain, 28,291 feet.