Yoko Zeltserman Miyaji
"Miyaji's furniture epitomizes the genius of Japanese design where form and function come together."
- Midori Oka, Peabody Essex Museum
Yoko Zeltserman Miyaji is a master furniture maker who has been working with urushi (Japanese Lacquer) and wood for more than thirty years. She has perfected her brilliant technical skills at the Kyoto City University of Art, where she earned her Bachelors and Masters degree. At the time, studio furniture in America was beginning to mature as a field; it was this convergence of art and furniture that Miyaji responded to. She created sculptural pieces that also functioned as furniture with wood and urushi, the materials she was trained to use. Miyaji was the first woman artist to make and exhibit contemporary furniture in Japan and is considered a pioneer as the first artist to make furniture that responded to the American studio furniture movement in the 1970's.
In Japan, her work was recognized in several noted exhibitions, including: "Selected Artists in 2000," Kyoto City Museum of Art, 2000; "Artist Chairs - Six Artists From Kansai," Kobe Fashion Museum, 2000; "Selected Artists in 1998," Kyoto City Museum of Art, 1998; "Kyoto Exhibition," Kyoto City Museum of Art, 1997; "100 Chairs in Japan," Meitetsu Department Store, Nagoya, 1995; "Adventure by Hands," Miyagi Prefecture Museum of Art, Sendai, Miyagi, 1994; "Expressions From Kyoto," Shimogamo Shinto Shrine, Kyoto, 1993; "Amusement Wooden Boxes," Asahikawa Museum of Art, Asahikawa Hokkaido, 1992.
In her recent work, Miyaji references the design of "Chigai Dana," traditional display alcoves found in tea rooms and Japanese homes. She incorporates traditional as well as contemporary patterns using various methods of Kawari Nuri (making pattern) techniques, combining layers of urushi, paint, and polishing to bring out intricate patterns and colors.
Yoko Zeltserman Miyaji's work is in the collection of the Museum of Arts and Design in New York, the Peabody Essex Museum in Salem, MA and the Kamm Teapot Foundation in Sparta, NC.