Yuri Kobayashi (USA)


Artist’s statement

Music and chocolate keep spirits uplifted. 
Muse and stupidity approach in the wee hours.
All the cards are held in my hand.
Playing with the game helps to shape the quality of my life.

Born and raised in Japan, the essence of Japanese ethics, aesthetics, and culture was embedded in me before I recognized it. Based on these roots, my work strives to reflect the disciplines passed down through Japan’s lineage in the technical skills of woodworking through experimental sculptural forms and contemporary art. For me, working with wood embodies my lifestyle and way of thinking. Creating and building three-dimensional objects using wood as the predominant medium has become a vehicle for me to express and communicate with others. 

My work reflects my identity, experiences, and thoughts. Being a foreigner, I am fascinated by the sameness, or universality, of human nature. Inevitably, my own experiences provide an intuitive resource, oftentimes evoking themes or concepts drawing me toward forms to depict in three dimensions. I play my cards. I strive to capture a theme, embracing emotional qualities in an abstract form. Then, I explore the possibilities in traditional woodworking to express it. 

Being, one of my early works, is an abstract skyscraper expressing my interpretation of human nature. It consists of a complicated matrix intertwined with physical and intellectual elements. 

A life is given to live and survive.
The flesh and intellect are intertwined.
We grow,
We strive
To be well, to become stronger and wiser.
Obstacles are in a way
With the flesh and intellect, 
The mystical power, connected to universe, coexists
To accept, to tackle, and to overcome.

A life was given to me, to you, and to us all.
Moments, none the same.
So are human beings.
The flesh and intellect all together,
Never cease to change, progress, or regress.
We keep evolving.



artist's bio

Yuri Kobayashi is a New England–based sculptor and furniture maker. Born in Japan in 1971, she earned a bachelor of arts in architecture at Musashino Art University in Tokyo and trained under Master Osamu Shoji in Japanese traditional woodworking and furniture making at Shinrin Takumi Juku in Takayama City, Japan. She also holds an MFA in furniture design from San Diego State University and has served as a part-time faculty member in the department of furniture design at Rhode Island School of Design since 2006. Using wood as her primary medium, she creates and builds a range of structures from abstract sculptures to experimental functional pieces of furniture. Kobayashi exhibits and teaches nationally and has participated in international artists’ events. Most recently, she presented her work through World Wood Day 2016 in Nepal. She has received numerous competitive residencies, grants, and fellowships, including the Windgate artist in residencies at SUNY Purchase (2010) and the University of Wisconsin–Madison (2011), artist in residence at Anderson Ranch Art Center in 2012, and Windgate International Turning Exchange Fellow at the Center for Art in Wood, Philadelphia, in 2014.