Artist Bio

Gina Ariko is a Japanese-American figurative painter based in Seattle, WA. Growing up, she spent every other summer visiting family in Kokura, Japan, where her ojichan and obaachan first taught her to paint. Despite the language and distance barriers between them, they learned to connect through a shared love of painting. Her interest in art and storytelling overlapped at Santa Clara University, where she earned a bachelor's degree in both English and studio art, with a minor in art history. After graduation, Gina worked in marketing, events, and community development before pursuing her art full-time in 2020. In addition to her studio practice, Gina freelances as a floral designer and teaches art classes in the Seattle area. 

Artist Statement

I owe my lifelong love of painting to my ojichan and obaachan, who were both professional artists. Growing up biracial and second-generation American, I often felt caught in the in-between, sometimes feeling “too American to be Japanese” and other times “too Japanese to be American.” This push-and-pull shows up in my work: nostalgia, a search for belonging, and the comfort of returning home are recurring themes in my paintings. My paintings also reflect my love for traditional Japanese crafts, and the mindfulness they evoke. I love capturing the quiet intimacy of everyday moments and holding on to the soft expressions in an old family photo.

  • my first painting supervised by Shigetoshi

    (my ojichan)

  • Ariko (my obaachan) holding me up in front of her painting at an exhibition

  • Shigetoshi and Ariko

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