Satomi Kawai was born and grew up in Japan, where a women’s virtue has been modesty, obedience, and harmonizing with her family and society. When she moved to the US, she found new opportunities to examine and explore the qualities of womanhood, including physical, mental, emotional, and psychological layers as well as muscular appearances. The change in the external environment and time added flexibility to her conceptualization of femininity. Her experiences sparked curiosity: did others have similar transformations after moving to the US? Satomi is exploring not only her personal perception but also other women’s perception as a woman. She creates wearable objects, drawings and printings, and performances. She has exhibited her artwork nationally (Cedar Rapids, Chicago, New York) and internationally (Netherland, Switzerland, Germany.)
Inspired by the10 interviewees of the “women: hood” project, I performed a general idea of being a Japanese woman with a virtue: “no see, no listen, no speak” with my adornments from “Smile in Black.” This series of jewelry pieces are based on an old Japanese custom for women; blackening teeth after getting married, which shows the society expects gentle, passive, and harmonious attitudes of Japanese women. These attitudes could be an easy way to live for a Japanese woman, which could be adapted to any woman in the world even today. To play this gender role, should we be suffocating ourselves to meet the expectation? — I think not. In this modern world, we have to see, listen, and speak out who we (you) are and what we (you) think.
Note: The research on “Blackening Teeth” was done for a contemporary art jewelry project “NUDA VITA,” curated by Ilaria Ruggiero, an Italian director of A/DORNMENT curating contemporary art Jewelry, at “Munich Jewellery Week 2019.”