Gina Ariko is a Japanese-American figurative painter based in Seattle, WA. Growing up, she spent every other summer visiting family in Kitakyushu, Japan, where her ojichan and obaachan first taught her to paint. Despite the language and distance barriers between them, they learned to communicate 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 for mission-driven organizations. She began pursuing her art full-time in 2020.
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
Ariko (my baachan) holding me up in front of her painting at a gallery exhibition
Shigetoshi and Ariko