My overall goal as an artist is to express the essence and beauty of nature and to work with metaphors that inspire and connect people with nature in their region. —Masayuki Nagase
Sculptor Masayuki Nagase views public art as an opportunity to develop long-term meaningful dialogue and connections among space, community and art. Nagase’s work is inspired by the essence of nature and natural forms. His preliminary design for The Sculpture Project: Passage of Wind and Water was based on his experience of the beauty and power of nature in the Black Hills and Badlands of western South Dakota. Nagase first visited the area 30 years ago and said the memory of its beauty drew him to apply to be The Sculpture Project artist.
“Nagase’s work possesses a kind of simplicity, refinement and uncommon purity which make the work timeless and at the same time, universal,” said RaVae Luckhart, an artist and member of the artist selection committee for The Sculpture Project.
Originally from Kyoto, Nagase attended the Academy of Fine Arts in Tokyo and completed a traditional stone-carving apprenticeship in the granite quarries there. He has worked as a sculptor internationally for over 30 years and as a public artist for more than 10 years. He lives in Berkeley, California with his family.
Nagase began his work in Rapid City on July 1, 2013. Using primarily traditional hand tools and carving onsite over the summer months, the artist projects completing Passage of Wind and Water in 2017.
Nagase's abstract design uses two major visual themes, wind for the Badlands Tapestry Garden along Main Street and water for the Black Hills Tapestry Garden along Sixth Street, and explores a vast expanse of the region's natural and cultural history.
"How much change all of the people have undergone here, both the Native people and the settlers," Nagase said. "That gave me the idea that I want to use change and transformation as the overall themes of my project."
The artist’s most recent public art installations are at San Francisco General Hospital; Venice Island in Manayunk, Pennsylvania; Portland State University in Oregon; Little Sugar Creek Greenway in Charlotte, North Carolina; and Centralia Community College in Washington. Nagase’s public art also appears in Colorado, Louisiana, Arizona, New Mexico, and California, as well as in Japan, Chile and Europe. The artist taught at Fort Lewis College in Durango, Colorado and has been part of exhibitions and symposia in the U.S., Europe and South America. Visit his website at http://www.mnagase.com/.