Mika Yajima | Japan


From the start of her freelance career, Textile & Fiber Artist MIKA YAJIMA produced mainly on order artwork to hotels, corporate buildings, Airport lounges, etc., for architectural spaces by using original techniques - weaving, knotting, winding, collage, and polyester coating with fibre material.
A paradoxical combination of thin thread and metal, light and heavy, soft and hard, and the like are her hallmarks.
From 2006, she exhibited some conceptual installations pursuing more spirituality with stronger messages.
In recent years, she has made a transformation from folk art materials and ancient traditional techniques to the contemporary arts returning to the original self-cultivated material series -Asian royal fern, Basho fiber, Kudzu fiber etc., that continues from her art college days, something that cannot be done with machines, digital tools, or AI. And she is now focusing a variety style of expressions using weaving techniques and materials to tapestries, frameworks, installations, and mixed-media, what based on a consistent theme.
It seems like a divine grace that "catalyst by mordant metal compound produce to vivid colors in natural dyeing. For the artist, such as braiding, twisting, winding, spinning, weaving etc., by adding the essence that comes up from artist’s inside through the palm of the hand, the fibre and paradoxical materials harmonized, feeling the moment when a new soul breathed into the works, it is the artist’s greatest pleasure and ultimate purpose.




Prime in Reveres

Prime in Reveres

Contemporary Art Station: Tell us about how you got started. When did you know you wanted to be an artist?


Reminiscing about my childhood, I often peeled the leaves and stems of home garden plants off to see the veins. The green sap that stains the nails when tying and twisting, the leaf core etc., I still remember the plants fibre touching with my finger.
At the decisive moment, when I discovered of my great-grandmother's weaving tools in the family warehouse in my art college days, while following the trace of the great-grandmother who was completely homemakers while keeping the weaving ritual, I decide my creative base as a weaver using traditional techniques and materials to make a transformation as an Artist. Since then, I started to realization of self-cultivating and gathering Asian-royal-fern and raw cotton, cutting down the Basho-banana plants that had grown wild on the land of ancestors, and started to weave the thread by hand. The theme of my graduation piece was 'Basho, paper cloth and Asian-royal-fern's weaving - fusing independently transmitted dyeing and weaving folk craft materials that have never before met', and included research on materials and a tapestry piece. After her graduation, the piece won the incentive award at the '89 Asahi Contemporary Craft Exhibition, and after four years practical experience, I left the employed corporation to go freelance.
While in the process of attempting semi-three-dimensional modelling by carrying out resin coat on textiles had woven by my-self, through an introduction by the art business company I was formally employed at, and offered technical cooperation for a golf course lounge artwork project run by a construction company. From then on, Yajima was able to specialize in architectural spaces, and handle order-made artwork that involved building up the space while directly exchanging opinions with architects and clients.

決定的だったのは、美術大学在籍中に実家の蔵で曽祖母の機織りの道具を偶然見つけた時です。機織りの祀りごとを大切にしながら一族を守ってきた曽祖母の軌跡を辿るうち、昔はどこの家でも受け継がれてきた機織りの伝統的手法や素材を使いながら何か新しい表現を試みるアーティストを目指したいと思いました。以後長い休みごとに先祖代々の土地できもの和裁士の祖母の助けを得てぜんまい綿や綿花の植物繊維を自家栽培・採集し、敷地に自生する芭蕉を倒して糸を績む手織物の実体験を始めます。卒業制作のテーマは芭蕉・紙布・ぜんまい織-それぞれが独立して継承され作品として交わることのなかった民芸染職素材を融合させる-素材研究とタペストリー制作。作品は’89朝日現代クラフト展に於いて奨励賞を受賞し、そ� �後4年間の実務経験ののちフリーランスとなります。自分の織った織物に樹脂加工を施しモデリングする半立体造形を試みる過程で、元勤務先のアートビジネス関連会社の紹介により建設会社の経営するゴルフ場ラウンジアートワークプロジェクトに参加、以後建築空間専門に直接設計者やクライアントと意見を交わしながら空間を作り上げていくオーダーアートワークを手がけるようになります。

CAS: What is your process like, from initial idea to the creation of the piece? Do you usually develop the idea for a project before you find the "canvas", or vice versa?



“While walking in consciousness on the drawing, the shape naturally floats up in my brain.
The accumulation of experience, techniques, and material's knowledge make my images stronger.”

Regarding commercial order-artwork, there was no same form each time that emerges for each space under different places and conditions. The basics are fiber art, but the techniques and materials used were a wide variety of mixed media for each project. I still keep many parts and materials that are in the process of being set up, and there are often works that are completed more than 10 years later by testing the suitability of the material. The main style is taking out the necessary things from the drawers of ideas accumulated in a long artist's life, combine them and reconstruct them. Develop the idea, for Yajima - it seems as if jumping with time and space as past, present and future.



CAS: What do you love most about your creative process?


“The moment when suffering turns into joy.”

In recent years, I have focused on creating different techniques and materials series according to consistent themes. It's a fight against own self, because most of the work is manual, so it takes a lot of time to the final process. Every time if there is an opportunity to exhibit, I will embody and express the ideas I have accumulated in the drawer for over a decade. Since it's an SNS era, “what will Mika come out next?” It is “The moment turning into joy” that I can feel the reaction immediately, and what I love most about my creative process.



Cosmic Spiral

Cosmic Spiral

CAS: What role does art and the artist play in the broader social conversation today?


In recent years, I have exhibited several times at overseas art fairs, and have been able to communicate by SNS directly with people from all over the world, who loves art and have never had a connection before. I can chat information with other artists and get a glimpse of the circumstances and situations in each country.

If I update my new work and its process, I can hear new reactions and opinions that are completely different from those I have been aware of. On the other side, I can see a glimpse of art from different countries and artworks from various countries at home, and feel that it is purely wonderful, or feel like I am experiencing as if the process of evolution together with them.

Through various media, everyone across borders and eras, everyone can easily know the trajectory of each life that has created struggling works while reach a deadlocks, even those artists who are already masters now. Art and the artist, it seems to play the role of looking at the mirror of the one’s heart today.




CAS: Name a few of your favorite artists and influences.


Professor Akiko Shimanuki: A pioneer of Japanese fiber artists, Attitude to pursue production without compromise and learned Sprang technique method.

恩師・島貫昭子教授 :日本のファイバーアート界の先駆者、妥協なく制作を追及する姿勢とスプラング技法を伝授頂いたこと。

Jyakuchuu Ito:As a research subject in my art collage days, I learned his “timeless originality” that does not need to be compared with others.

伊藤若冲 : 大学時代のリサーチ対象として、“時代を超越したオリジナル性”に、他者と比較する必要がないことを学びました。

Gustav Klimt: Especially “Golden Phase” seeing at Österreichische Galerie Belvedere in my art college days,

after that, it became an opportunity to pay carefully attention to the gold leaf works in art and architecture in various countries.

グスタフ・クリムト : 大学時代オーストリア・ベルヴェデーレ宮殿美術館で衝撃を受けてから金箔使いに畏敬を抱きました。


CAS: What is the best advice you received as an artist?


“Keep your hands moving little by little and keep producing, no matter how your environment is hard”

By Professor Akiko Shimanuki


CAS: When did you discover your voice as an artist?


When I was in a long hiatus, I discovered my voice as an artist.




CAS : What advice would you give to emerging artists trying to find their own?


"About the sustainability when you use textile & fiber materials"

Thinking long-term installation of the more commercial textile works in public space, it is important factor durability, deterioration, and continuous maintenance. For example, if it is installed directly under air conditioning, dust curtains can be created, and if it installed besides the window or under the spotlight will cause discoloration later. If it is installed inside a company that cannot be freely maintained for a long period of time, maintenance must be taken into consideration from the design stage so that it can be easily maintained even if the person in changes. 

Being responsible as a producer while always incorporating the characteristics of materials and evolving information is a lifetime issue, but it is a great honor for the artist to see the works that have been installed for decades. This is a valuable experience that reminds me of gratitude to the people who were involved.




Composition Ryusui

Composition Ryusui

Contemporary Art Station