Today we’d like to introduce you to Josh Kawahata.
Thanks for sharing your story with us Josh. So, let’s start at the beginning and we can move on from there.
I was born in Japan but grew up in America in my hometown of Hacienda Heights, California. Growing up I had many interests whether it was playing Nintendo video games, listening to hip hop, collecting sneakers, or playing basketball. The one constant that remained and matched my excitement for these things were the drawings I would make of them.
I come from a family of non-artists and from a place where interests in these aspects of culture weren’t common at the time so this was a way I could show the people in my life the collage of passions that were my world. Toward the end of high school under the guidance of a couple supportive mentors I was able to really find my way to art. Art is a calling and I’ve never felt meant for anything as much as I do now. I am currently in my final semester in the Drawing and Painting BFA program at Cal State Long Beach.
Has it been a smooth road?
I really had to think about this question, how I wanted to go about it. I’m a young artist now, but what I can say is this. Becoming an artist was not easy. I think a majority of us would tell you that. Whether it is our financial situations, fear of our families not accepting us because we choose art, fear of failure, whatever. I’m not sure if success in any capacity would really mean anything if it was easy all the time.
As artists, we all have something about us that we keep tucked away, but we keep going and do what we do because we need to. It wasn’t a smooth road, but I know I’m one of the lucky ones. I have a supportive family who are proud of me, I have mentors who believe in me, and my friends and I are building a community. We’re of a new generation of artists and we grow and expand together. We just hold on when it seems like we’re at the end of our rope, despite it feeling lonely at times we find the strength to believe in ourselves, work hard, and every now and then the stars align.
We’d love to hear more about your art.
My work is a celebration of my interests many of which stem from popular culture. Whether it’s video games, Air Jordan sneakers, or emojis, these are the types of things I am drawn to. My desire for these pop culture objects is matched only by my excitement for the process of making art. New items and imagery are constantly being produced from pop culture and the way I see it; more is more. There are always more opportunities to express myself, expand my interests, and to connect with others.
I am aware that some may choose to see products of pop culture as materialistic or empty. I disagree. I choose to celebrate pop culture rather than critique it. Elements of the content in my work often have very individualized meanings for different people and at the same time have shared meanings all of us collectively understand. My paintings are how I share the passions that have shaped my identity.
If you had to start over, what would you have done differently?
I only move forward. I feel when you start looking back that’s when you’ve stopped.
What’s next? Where people could find my work?
I’ll be graduating from CSULB in the Spring of 2020 with a BFA in drawing and painting. I will be showing a new body of work in our graduating BFA group show on December 1-5. People can also find my work on Instagram where I frequently post finished works, details on upcoming shows/ projects, as well as works in progresses on my stories.
- Email: Joshkawa@gmail.com
- Instagram: @rarejawsh