Aya Rodriguez-Izumi: Noboru

Aya Rodriguez-Izumi: Noboru


Colorful vertical flags with circles, and wavy spaces hanging in a green space in front of a green house

May to July 2023 @ Pennant Place
928 NW 21st Ave, Gainesville, Florida  
Curated by Flounder Lee


Artist Statement

Noboru (2021) is a project that plays with the symbol of a nobori, a Japanese style of signal flag that carries histories and uses in war, advertising, and building of cultural identity and allegiance through imagery. In these works, I confront such notions by reimagining these symbols through abstraction, color, and multiplicity. This series of 10 unique designs are reproductions of paintings created with colored Sumi ink and gouache. The imagery is based on designs of aircraft used by the Japanese Imperial Navy during World War II. This symbol of allegiance is remixed and reimagined using swirling colors and turned into abstractions. Each banner is emblemed with two circles that rise, fall, and intersect. When all 10 are seen together, they create an undulating landscape that blurs and rethinks an expression of identity as one of intersection, inbetween-ness, and anti-allegiance. These works attempt to unearth layers of identity, how it appears, intersects, and is hard to pin down; especially in spaces such as Okinawa where histories and influences from multiple powers weigh heavy, intersect, and give birth to new identities.

Curator Statement

Aya’s work is colorful and fun, which draws viewers in and confronts them with serious issues such as imperialism, colonialism, and trauma. This series of flags reimagines flags of war into expressive imagery. An unintended but interesting overlay to this exhibition is that the house the work sits in front of was WWII military housing before being moved to this location. This already tinges the work without even mentioning the history of settler-colonialism to this location. The work and this exhibition is suffused with layers of history, meaning, repurpose, and renewal. Artists like Aya weave these complicated threads into a tapestry that tells a more full history, one that asks us all to think in a more nuanced way about land and history, as well as work on ways to create better futures for those who history and oppressive systems have wronged.

Artist Biography

Aya Rodriguez-Izumi is an interdisciplinary artist and educator whose work blends installation, performance, community engagement, documentation and beyond to explore aspects of ritual retention, cross-cultural identity and histories that risk erasure. She was born in Okinawa, Japan, and grew up between that island and East Harlem, NY, where she currently lives and holds a studio. Her work has been exhibited through group and solo presentations at venues such as El Museo del Barrio, MoCADA, Pulse Miami Beach, and the International House of Japan in Tokyo among others. She was a recipient of the A.I.R. Gallery Fellowship New York in 2017-2018, a Jerome Foundation Fellowship at Franconia Sculpture Park in Minnesota in 2018, the 2018-2019 JUSFC Creative Artist Fellowship and was a 2020 artist fellow at Socrates Sculpture Park. Rodriguez-Izumi earned a BFA in Fine Arts from Parsons the New School for Design in 2009, and an MFA in Fine Arts from The School of Visuals Arts in 2017.

Instagram: __iamaya__ Website: iamaya.com