Artist Bio

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 museums and educational organizations. She began pursuing her art full-time in 2020.

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 and a search for belonging are recurring themes in my paintings. My paintings often reflect my love for traditional Japanese crafts, and the mindfulness they evoke. I get a deep sense of calm from portraying the quiet intimacy in everyday moments that are often overlooked.

Likewise, my figurative work is inspired by old family photos, at once familiar and foreign, and the way our shared memories can almost start to feel like dreams. I love lingering in those hard-to-grasp moments, and hope that my work stirs feelings of comfort and curiosity in others, too.

  • my first painting supervised by Shigetoshi

    (my jichan)

  • Ariko (my baachan) holding me up in front of her painting at a gallery exhibition

  • Shigetoshi and Ariko

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