“Ma” or 間 is a common Japanese word with no specific English equivalent. It can be universally understood as a pause. It is an absence that defines a space, the interior of a bowl. “Ma” is more of an interlude than it is a chasm. One’s understanding of “ma” is driven by her shifting perception as she becomes acquainted with a given setting.
Kuwayama wants to engage this term in a new body of work that includes plaster paintings and site-specific installation of varying mediums. Non-toxic materiality is central to her practice, and nearly every element of her work is handmade: she forages berries or crushes charcoal for pigment, paints with a milk compound, can name the sheep from which she produces her own yarn. Her mindful harnessing of mediums connects Kuwayama’s artistic practice to all other realms of her days. Her creative decisions, for example, affect the world her children inhabit, the world we all inhabit. She expressed that she works through “a process of compression and expansion” where “life spills into art and art spills into life.”
This tendency to scrap compartmentalization is intentional. Kuwayama operates without regard for linear or received narratives often visible in art history. The work she’s installed in the gallery, therefore, develops and commands white walls as well as peculiar structural elements in order to highlight in-between spaces. 間 (Ma) summons us into these interstitial moments of art, so that we challenge our senses to engage with the real as much as the imagined, the created and the approaching.