Chris Namaizawa (Mixed Media)
With an American father and Japanese mother, Chris Namaizawa’s life and livelihood has been based in Tokyo, Japan. Since Japanese culture strongly values group harmony, the Japanese have the tendency to exclude someone appearing different. Thus, it came to Chris as no surprise that during his youth he was labeled a “gaijin (foreigner)” due to his multiethnic appearance amongst Japanese society. He cared more about his fashion sense than the judgment regarding his physicality though. He spent the money he saved from working on new clothes in order to distract the attention given to his ethnicity. Moreover, fashion was a means of cultural inclusion for Chris as fashion is an element of great importance in Japanese culture. A major turning point in his life was his encounter with the growing “streetculture” phenomenon and sub culture in Harajuku. After working with a Tokyo based IT company for a number of years, Chris established a fashion brand, which ultimately warranted participation in the “Paris Collection” in France. Eventually, Chris transitioned his career focus to fine art in order to take his creations to a new dimension and medium. Living in the US, he truly became cognizant of the extent to which he camouflaged the characteristics and traits that made him Japanese. Chris’s most current works incorporate this idea of concealed identity and display a camouflaged blend of his two main points of expertise, art and fashion. He has recently collaborated on new collections with various select shops in Japan and abroad. His most current project involved designing shopping bags for several major Tokyowide department stores including Lumine.