Born 1938 in São Paulo, Brazil; lives and works in Los Angeles

Kenzi Shiokava arrived in Los Angeles in 1964, receiving a bachelor’s degree from Chouinard Art Institute (now California Institute of the Arts) in 1972 and a master’s degree from Otis Art Institute (now Otis College of Art and Design) in 1974. He was heavily influenced by the work of his art school peers, who included such noted assemblage artists as John Outterbridge, Noah Purifoy, and Betye Saar. His work, which revolves around wood carving and assemblage, embodies a cultural hybridity that can be seen in his wood and macramé totems, which represent, respectively, his Japanese and Brazilian sides. Shiokava received the Mohn Award for public recognition for his participation in the Hammer Museum’s Made in LA 2016: a, the, though, only.


My name is Kenzi Shiokava and I was born in Brazil. I came in 1964...a long time ago.

Definitely, I'm Brazilian Japanese. You know the way I think--I think like a Brazilian. But, my psyche is pure Japanese.

You know, I went to school here...I developed myself as an artist here. What I am doing, it has to move people. It has to inspire other people. If I do something--really that would come from my guts...My whatever--inside of me, you know... I would be very, very happy.

I like, you know, the natural...natural material...that's the wood, or from plants. And so easily available. Because my major thing is carving wood. Even that--when I get the material, it already has history.

Forty years, fifty years, I work... Because I believe...what I'm doing, you know. To do art is my work, you has an urgency. It's not just, if I want to or not. It's a necessity, you know. Now I enjoy to be here, in my studio just enjoying the moments...because I'm enjoying the self.

I'm so grateful that I'm getting older. You know, all the process... The more you live, the more you learn.

* * * * *

Transpacific Borderlands: The Art of Japanese Diaspora in Lima, Los Angeles, Mexico City, and São Paulo is on view at the Japanese American National Museum from September 17, 2017 - February 25, 2018. The exhibition examines the experiences of artists of Japanese ancestry born, raised, or living in either Latin America or predominantly Latin American neighborhoods of Southern California. Kenzi Shiokava is one of the artists featured in this exhibition.

For more information about the exhibition, visit

Japanese American National Museum
100 N. Central Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90012

*The exhibition is part of Pacific Standard Time: LA/LA, a Getty-led initiative exploring Latin American and Latino art in dialogue with Los Angeles, and is made possible through grants from the Getty Foundation. The presenting sponsor of PST: LA/LA is Bank of America.

JANM — Last modified Sep 22 2018 10:06 p.m.

Kizuna 2020: Nikkei Kindness and Solidarity During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Read the stories and share your own!

More Than a Game: Nikkei Sports

Submissions accepted until October 31.

Read the Nikkei sports stories >>

Get updates

Sign up for email updates

Journal feed
Events feed
Comments feed

Support this project

Discover Nikkei

Discover Nikkei is a place to connect with others and share the Nikkei experience. To continue to sustain and grow this project, we need your help!

Ways to help >>

A project of the Japanese American National Museum

Major support by The Nippon Foundation