There is an phenomenon where objects can hold meaning and be used as metaphors for storytelling–such is the case of the Japanese glass floats. Kevin J. Miyazaki uses these small pale green universes to mirror his family’s migration across the pacific, each unique and shaped by another, each quietly spectacular, and each having made a journey to another shore. These are all characteristics that Kevin can apply to his relatives who left the world they were tethered to in search of another shore.
Kevin J. Miyazaki is an artist and photographer based in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. His artwork addresses issues of family history, memory, identity and migration. He is a fourth generation Japanese American, raised in the suburban Midwest, far from his ancestral roots in Japan, Hawaii and Washington state. Miyazaki’s work has been exhibited at venues including the Haggerty Museum of Art, Griffin Museum of Photography, Newspace Center for Photography, Hyde Park Art Center and Center for Photography at Woodstock. He is currently completing a commission for the Museum of Wisconsin Art, which will open in June 2019.
My ancestors, who immigrated to this country in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s, arrived by water. They traveled from Yamaguchi, Ehime, Kumamoto and Aomori prefectures in Japan and arrived by ship in Seattle, San Francisco and Honolulu.
In the series, Float, I photograph Japanese glass floats which have also made their way across the Pacific Ocean. In the early 1900’s, Japanese fisherman began using these glass balls to buoy their fishing nets. When they broke free from rope nets, many found their way into the Kuroshio current, which sent them into a large circular ocean route, passing by the coasts of Alaska, the Pacific Northwest, California and the Hawaiian Islands. Only when a storm altered their path would they end up washed ashore on beaches.
The floats were hand blown with inexpensive glass, usually melted down sake bottles, which accounts for their green and blue color. Each is a unique object, something like a fingerprint, with individual shapes, patterns of air bubbles and circular closures.
I see these floats as a way of thinking about those who came before me, and about larger issues of migration, permanence, tenacity and the paths that lead us from one place to another.
Posts on Lenscratch may not be reproduced without the permission of the Lenscratch staff and the photographer.
Kevin J. Miyazaki: FloatMay 25th, 2019