|San Jose Mercury News
May 21, 2007
By Lisa Fernandez - Mercury News
As far as students art projects go, this one went above and beyond. Not only did the fourth-graders in San Jose and Cupertino create a cool-looking quilt made of candy wrapper shreds and recycled zip lock bags, their unusual endeavor also broke down cultural barriers.
"I see that many of these kids have really strong ties to their home country." said Corinne Okada Takara, 39, a mixed-media artist, teacher and brainchild of the quilt project, which will hang at the San Jose Museum of Quilts and Textiles through July 15. "But they don't know much about other kids who live just a couple of towns away."
That gap was the inspiration for her quilt: Create a pen-pal art project between 9 year-olds at Horace Cureton Elementary School in East San Jose and Stevens Creek Elementary School in CUpertino., where Takara also is an art teacher. Many of the students are first-generation Americans whose parents were born in far-flung places across the globe.
The culmination of the project occurred Sunday at a meet and greet at the museum where the students showed off their quilt, introduced their parents and enjoyed cookies and juice. It was the first time the two classes met face to face...
Irresistible Suzy Welch,
Frost and Fire Butterfly, a commissioned piece, was included
as part of a photo spread featured in Harper's Bazaar magazine.
May 12th, 2005.
get the feeling artist Corinne Okada is not at all like
Go! When we pop candy (namely an entire bag of Hershey's
kisses in two sittings), we're quick to dispose of the evidence.
Okada, however, transforms the wrappers, as well as Asian
rice paper, into contemporary sculptures with fanciful names
such as ''Blooming Snack Wrapper Shoe" and ''Salty Lemon
Spring Butterfly". Today's your last chance to see Okada's
work at L'Attitude Gallery's latest exhibit, ''Paper & Paint."
Owner Betty Bothereau has paired Okada's
work with Lana Gordon's mixed-media paintings, and judging
from the various ''sold" signs on the gallery's website,
it's been a popular attraction. Also today, the gallery
inaugurates a new exhibit, ''Point Counterpoint," with an
artist's reception from 1 to 4 p.m. You can check out samples
from both exhibits at www.lattitudegallery.com. It's free,
and today's hours are noon to 5 p.m. 218 Newbury St., 617-927-4400.
Coast to Coast
and Garden Television - Episode HCC2C-147
and Wire Frog project
Corinne Okada Tokara of Cupertino, California
has found a pastime that is playful and unique, while paying
homage to her Asian heritage. Using Asian rice paper and
handmade fibers, she creates an adorable wire and fiber
Honolulu Star Bulletin
Nadine Kam, Scratch
February 26, 2004.
Takara Okada takes childhood lessons to heart in turning
odds and ends into whimsical pieces of art.
Okada Takara's living room didn't look like all the other
kids' in the mainland neighborhoods where she grew up. She's
since realized most people don't have a giant hippo couch,
complete with foam teeth that she crawled through to make
a home in the creature's belly. But back then her father's
carpet-patch creation -- a child's couch that was the result
of a product design master's-degree project -- seemed normal.
Looking back, Takara says: "My poor mom! Imagine that sitting
in the living room everywhere we lived."
got even stranger during the family's almost annual visits
to Hawaii to catch up with relatives
on Oahu and Paia, Maui, where David Okada grew up, a
plantation boy through and through. "I
don't think my dad even wore
shoes until junior high," says Takara, who listened in amazement
to elders talking story."They were storytellers and would
always talk about the good old days, about eating things
like grubs off wood sticks and say they feel sorry for kids
today who don't grow up with that." She also learned the
No. 1 plantation household rule: Don't throw anything away,
because everything has a purpose. "My great-auntie had a
drawer for plastic bags and another for plastic bags with
holes in them. If they caught me throwing away aluminum
foil, they'd tell me to wash it and hang it out to dry.It
was funny to see all the plastic bags and foil flapping
in the wind. "I don't think that people in Hawaii realize
it's kind of a unique thing. The only other place I've seen
that is in the South, where they also had a plantation history.
"I appreciate the way people were able to use what they
had to create something beautiful, how they'd make clothes
with rice bags, and occasionally you would see a patch of
a beautiful silk kimono that would be part of something
really special." Takara took these lessons to heart in turning
scrap pieces of fabric, plastic netting, and milk candy
and crack seed wrappers into whimsical paper-and-wire sculptures
and wearable hats. A few of her works are on view at C.S.
Wo through Sunday.
didn't start as a recycle artist. She began her career in
the arts as a commercial illustrator and graphic designer,
focusing on corporate identity for the high-tech industry
in San Francisco, where she still resides. That changed
four years ago when she gave birth to her son and wanted
to devote more time to him. The timing, coinciding with
the tech bust, couldn't have been better. "Even it I had
tried to stay in it, I wouldn't have found work," she said,
turning her attention to more personal art pursuits. She
started working with commercial papers but was drawn to
the translucent quality of the Chan Pan Mui and blue rabbit
illustration of the milk candy wrappers that also reflected
her Japanese heritage and Hawaii ties. Fixed in her imagination
were tales of apple wrappers folded into kimonos for homemade
dolls, airport greetings marked by an exchange of crack
seed leis, and patchwork blankets stitched from hundreds
of tiny Bull Durham tobacco bags. "My father made all his
own toys," she said, including boats made of leaves and
pinwheels of flowers. He grew up to be a head designer at
toy giant Kenner and senior vice president of product design
at Mattel. Creativity at home was encouraged, and at Halloween
time, Takara never had to go trick-or-treating in a store-bought
costume. She remembers her dad helping her to make a frog
mask out of a foam cooler covered with papier-mache. "I
was so young I thought I made it, but really, he made it."
didn't have to wait long to attract an audience. Her first
step was to contact Union Square stores with window displays.
Tiffany was staging an insect-inspired jewelry display,
and it was a natural fit for Takara's butterfly and dragonfly
sculptures. A gallery curator saw her work and invited her
to show, which led to more displays in Boston, New York
and Florida. Eventually, the translucent quality of the
wrappers she was using led her to think of Cinderella's
glass slipper, and this resulted in a series of single shoes,
all full of possibilities of one day finding a home on a
princess's foot. Some have found homes in the private collections
of the head curator of the Peabody Essex Museum and other
private collections. Although the shoes are not meant to
be worn, Takara's hats, inspired by Japanese kanzashi hair
ornaments and Okinawan dance hats, have made many an appearance
at San Francisco social events.
first hat she created was a gift for French couturier Christian
Lacroix, who made an appearance at Neiman Marcus San Francisco
in February 2001. Takara had created the sculptural display
as a backdrop to his fashion show, and afterward the designer
returned twice to photograph her work. She responded by
sending him a large paper-and-wire flower hat in the style
of her sculptures, for which she received a thank-you letter
that she keeps in her studio. Her family remains encouraging,
plying her with papers from candy and crack seed they have
consumed. Her husband, Kurt, who grew up in Nuuanu, also
eats his share of crack seed, but recently, she says she's
been naughty, buying certain seeds more for their wrappers
than their edible qualities. The couple didn't care for
a certain apricot-lemon combination, but with the wastefulness
taboo, they groaned through the mouthfuls, "Ohh, gotta eat
Okada Takara Exhibition of paper sculptures: Where: C.S.
Wo Gallery, 702 S. Beretania St. When: 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.
today and tomorrow, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and Sunday
Admission: Free Call: 543-5388 Quotable: "I appreciate the
way people were able to use what they had to create something
beautiful, how they'd make clothes with rice bags, and occasionally
you would see a patch of a beautiful silk kimono that would
be part of something really special."
Peabody Essex Museum
Dan L. Monroe Executive Director and CEO Peabody Essex Museum
if not all, museum professionals have been drawn to this
field by the opportunity to work with the art and ideas
represented in one or more collections. Even during a busy
day I try to steal a few minutes to visit the galleries.
From time to time in this letter I will mention an artwork
that has lately caught my eye. One of these is a recent
acquisition on view in the Japanese Art Gallery. It's a
contemporary work titled Jan Ken Pon (Rock, paper, scissors)
in which artist Corinne Okada has drawn on ideas, values
and methods form several artistic and cultural traditions.
Almost the first thing I notice is the intense sky-blue
color. Also striking are the strong curves that make this
piece appear to be soaring through the air --
a feeling of suspension that suites the title's reference
to the decision-making game found in many cultures.
sculpture of paper and wire recalls the kimonos and kites
of traditional Japanese culture--and also the mobile sculptures
of Alexander Calder. The materials of which Jan Ken Pon
is composed include real scissors of the kind used in Japanese
flower arranging and the art of bonsai, wrappers from Asian
foodstuff that Okada associates with childhood visits to
relatives in Hawaii, and papers printed with Japanese comics.
References to the artist's personal past inevitably mirror
the different cultural traditions with which she is familiar.
Jan Ken Pon exemplifies the interconnectedness of many forms
of contemporary artistic expression and demonstrates the
rich complexity that results form interactions different
artistic and cultural traditions. Such interactions have
characterized art from its earliest beginnings, and they
are manifested in works found in all of the museum's collections.
September/ October, 2003
by family stories of life in plantation-era Hawaii, graphic
artist Corinne Okada Takara has turned to sculpture. Her
thrifty forbears recycled candy wrappers, cloth and scraps
of paper and plastics into dolls' clothes, blankets, dresses
and toy boats. Takara, '90, gives new life to exotic, multicolored
Asian food wrappers and fabrics in creations fashioned with
wire, like Fireworks Kimono (left). She also makes accessories
such as hats and wedding-veil ornaments. Takara's sculptures
have shown at galleries across the country, and the Peabody
Essex Museum in Salem, Mass., recently acquired one of the
Cupertino artist's pieces for its newly opened contemporary
The San Francisco
January 20, 2002.
this article describing the seasons trends, the artist's
yellow orchid corsage was photographed as a hair pin showcasing
its versatility as a unique fashion accessory.
corsages are made of a variety of recycled materials: Japanese
manga comics, Chinese preserved fruit wrappers, glass beads
and produce netting.
Finds, May 2002.
is crazy about Corinne Okada's"corsage" brooches and
hair accents. Designed with Chinese preserved fruit wrappers,
colored wire, produce netting and plastic beads, these chic and
individual pieces recall the artist's Hawaiian heritage and the
toys and doll clothes her grandparents made for her from available
materials at hand. Tapped by Neiman Marcus to design a San Francisco
store window in honor of a visit last year from Christian Lacroix,
Corinne Okada has a special and delicate sensibility that is so
right for spring.
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