Joanne Hayakawa

Hayakawa was born in Pasadena, California.  She has exhibited her work nationally, lectured internationally and has had several solo exhibitions (see CV); her pieces have also been included in several books. She began as a ceramist, and her work has evolved into the incorporation of many media including sound and moving parts. In her creative process, many questions are asked and mysteries are pursued, all the while pairing unlikely counterparts in order to create the possibility of empathy for the external environment. She is an object maker who reminds us that all things are affected by their environment.

Joanne Hayakawa was an undergraduate at the University of California, Santa Barbara, and a graduate student at the University of Washington, Seattle. She is currently a Professor Emerita at San Diego State University.


As artists who engage with the world, we have much to ponder. Our today is complex, and our current context is muddled, contradictory, frayed and woven with uneven tensions. Our human condition is uncertain, and our faith in good conclusions is rare. So how do we manage these conflicting issues? Often times, we move in the space between the conflicting issues to examine those disparate subjects to which we are drawn. This is because every duality presents a space between, and this dialectic can be a great conversation — what lies between can be quite surprising, beautiful and seductive.

I am drawn to symbiotic, diametrically-opposed pairs: vulnerability with strength, the extraordinary with the mundane, erudite intellectualism with innocent ignorance, formulaic science with beautiful art, self-indulgent technology with the human condition, regimented control with random exploration, art with kitsch, and more.

In order to explore opposing pairs, I have used body parts -– hearts, brains, spines -– and coupled them with parts from nature — roses and their thorny branches, cactus, lilies. These images have predictable implications. However, they are put into new contexts where there are shifts.  Currently, birds have become a symbol of frailty and strength. They have also become an indicator of the health of an environment, both human and natural. They are messengers, and I am hopeful the viewer will empathize with the context that I provide as though they are regarding their own body.

Most currently, I have used portraits of black birds (Corvids) to expression concerns about the environment.