We had the good fortune of connecting with Eriko Kobayashi and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Eriko, where are your from? We’d love to hear about how your background has played a role in who you are today?
I currently live in the United States but grew up in Tokyo, Japan. Growing up in the city, I was surrounded by great opportunities, many attractions and plenty of activities that would fulfill anyone’s desires, but despite the fact that I grew up in a wonderful environment, my heart remained unfulfilled. My insatiable need for fulfillment is what keeps me going as a glass artist today. I was always drawn to arts and crafts, however, I lost interest in art during my early school years when I started comparing myself to a classmate who was exceptionally talented at drawing. In high school, I became involved in cosplay and began creating my own costumes. This sparked my enthusiasm for creativity and self-expression again at a fever pitch and I chose to take classes in fashion, interior, and architecture design. After my first visit to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York City, in 2011, I fell in love with the textures and colors of glass and that has led me to where I am today. As someone who is continuously on the lookout for new and interesting challenges, glass is the perfect medium for me, and is my constant teacher. Growing up in Tokyo, a city overflowing with so much stuff, has greatly influenced me to consistently think about the value of objects and what makes them special.

Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
I take my life experiences and explore how they connect to everyday objects. Unexpectedly, the mundane objects around me can trigger vivid nostalgia that causes memories to flow through my mind in obscure fragments. These fragments replay in my head over and over, and in specific situations, becoming malleable and animated. While imagining a particular scene and transforming the object, I confront my own experience and engage in a personal, ever-growing relationship with the object. The objects I chose to represent are selected because they are close at hand and they are mine. Their cheapness and proximity make them the most appropriate instruments for my work. As a glass artist, it takes skill to take something as intangible as experience and reshape it into glass art. However, no matter how much my technique improves, I know that I can do better and that is why I fight with materials that allow me to endlessly accumulate experience, which is my main theme.

Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
I’ve lived in Southern Illinois for three years, and one of my favorite aspects of living here is how open the sky is. Being able to experience the vast wilderness of the United States is a privilege and I love to be surrounded by it. When I lived in Tokyo, the sky seemed so small, and after I moved to the United States, I was impressed by the immensity of the sky as I drove by the cornfields. At night, the stars are so magnificent that I occasionally pull over and gaze at the night sky. There are many lakes here, and my favorite places are Devil’s Kitchen Lake and Turkey Bayou. At Devil’s Kitchen, you can sit on the rocks with friends and have a drink and feel the time pass slowly. Turkey Bayou is great for canoeing and camping. Also, there is a great variety of wineries and breweries here, with Blue Sky Vineyard and Scratch Brewing Company being my favorites. I would love to stay at a cottage near a winery or camp near a lake with friends.

Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
I would like to thank my parents and everyone who has been a part of my life. Special thanks to Professor Kazuhiko Yamasaki at Jissen Women’s University; Shigeka Shioji and Nei Ogasawara, my best friends since freshman year; everyone who encouraged me at the Toyama Institute of Glass Art; everyone who helped me at the Chrysler Museum Glass Studio; Professor Jiyong Lee at Southern Illinois University and the friends I met there; and Ken Miura for helping me financially for my MFA thesis show. Because of all of you, I have been able to pursue my work as a glass artist in the United States. Thank you and I pledge to continue working hard every day.

Website: https://www.eriko-kobayashi.com

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/eriko_glass/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/erikokobayashi.glass/

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