Name: Rica Takashima
Zodiac Sign: Libra
Profession: Visual Artist, Cartoonist
Hobbies: PokemonGo, Manga, Anime, Vocaloid, Karaoke, Gluten free cooking… I am a total geek!
Hometown: Tokyo, Japan
Current City: Astoria, Queens
PLEASE TELL US A LITTLE ABOUT YOURSELF!
I moved to NYC with my family in 2008, because I thought the education system would be much better for my daughter here than in Japan. And actually, it is. I appreciate NYC, NY State, and my partner.
When I was a high school student, I visited and was touched by the "Making Peace: Posters from UN and UNICEF " art show at Tokyo University of the Arts. I wanted to study art to make the world better, and decided to enter the University. However, the Japanese art industry tends to hate to connect with politics and society, and teachers taught students the study of pursuing purely skills. When I questioned that, my friends turned me down and teachers told me to leave the University. I struggled and had no ideas. After I graduated from the University, I worked at stage art, music, advertising, game graphics, and in the publishing industry for decades. After I moved to NYC, I saw there are many artists who are advocating for our community/society and I remembered why I decided to be an artist. I am still learning the NYC art systems and industry as it is very different from the Japanese one.
YOU ARE AN ESTABLISHED ARTIST. YOU HAVE YOUR OWN WIKIPEDIA PAGE! WHY DID YOU DECIDE TO REACH OUT TO UP-STAND?
It was a coincidence, a chance meeting at the end of 2016. I had a table in a local holiday market, and UP-STAND was next to mine. Pregnant women was one theme of my art display and an interest of mine, and so I asked Christine if we could collaborate if we had the chance. I had no idea where it would go at the moment though.
IN WHAT WAYS HAVE YOU WORKED WITH UP-STAND?
I think our collaboration is going pretty well. First, Christine asked me to make a weighted empathy belly using a backpack. I created a wearable belly sculpture. We also held a pin making workshop at the Boogie On The Boulevard street festival in 2017, so that people can show their support for pregnant women and mothers. I have felt very comfortable working with Christine, and decided to go forward with two new projects for 2018, One Stop Family Pop Up and the Ramp Project. Please check out our project websites!
WHAT DO YOU GAIN PROFESSIONALLY AND PERSONALLY FROM WORKING WITH UP-STAND?
The experience of raising a child gave me a new perspective. I have been trying to incorporate that perspective into my art projects. I have thought that there must be many parent artists who gained a new philosophy like me as well, and I was wondering if I could have a project that focused on those artists. Because art - visual, performance, literature, music, etc. - can be a catalyst in connecting people who don’t know each other. By collaborating with UP-STAND on the One Stop Family Pop Up (pairing family accommodations with workshops, all run by mother artists), it makes it easy to convey to passersbys that our workshops and presentations at the artist’s tents are family-friendly and focused on relevant topics like the environment, and cooking or crafting together.
I am an indoor geek. My only exercise is playing Pokémon GO. I have had no connection with sports at all in my life. This is the first time I am collaborating on something with an athlete, so I'm looking forward to our One Stop Family Pop Up project being part of sporting events in the future, like Stroller Runs, soccer tournaments, etc. Those are new to me and make me really excited!
HOW AND WHY WOULD YOU ENCOURAGE OTHER INDIVIDUALS, ORGANIZATIONS, OR BUSINESSES TO GET INVOLVED WITH OUR MOVEMENT?
I think the combination of an exclusive lactation tent and an inclusive free workshop tent was interesting. Lactation and diaper changing spaces are needed for only breast/bottle feeding and guardians who need to change young children, so many people might feel “Oh, this is not a space for me.” However, next to the lactation tent, there is an artist’s tent where anyone can join - including volunteers, guest artists, and just passerby participants. These two inverse tents have powerful meaning. I think that we can provide a new form of society. I hope people feel the lactation tent is not just a place for mothers but an inclusive place. Lack of space for breastfeeding is not only a mothers’ issue. It is our issue for an inclusive community.
I am excited to ask everyone to be part of the project with outreach, and enjoy watching our community change into a better place together. For future projects, I want to ask parents of LGBTQ children to be our guest artists for the workshops and presentations.
WHERE CAN WE SEE MORE OF YOUR WORK?!?
Follow Rica on Instagram
Click to donate to the One Stop Family Pop Up now or see the project in action on September 29th in Socrates Sculpture Park from 11am-4pm.