I’m so happy to finally release this conversation with Harumi Abe, a Japanese painter based in South Florida who came to the Artist/Mother Podcast through last year’s open call. Harumi’s story proves the power of art as communication: originally traveling to the United States as a high school exchange student, she drew on her command of visual media to supplement her English skills. She returned to Miami after graduating to study painting and has lived in the American South ever since.
Harumi crafts large paintings that merge the two landscapes of Florida and Japan. Her new home has dominated her subject matter, as she uses the scenery of her regular walks and an Everglades artist residency to fuel her work. But Japan is not altogether absent: through developing a symbolic language of color, Harumi imbues resonances of Japan in depictions of Florida greenery and vice versa. This “visual topography of her inner self” stems from Harumi’s understanding of “home” as a state of mind that is cultivated through experience. We talk about both this abstract, hybrid home and the centrality of her physical home to her practice, complete with a backyard studio.
Harumi left her job as a professor of art when becoming pregnant, turning towards being a full-time artist/mother. We contemplate building new routines around the pace of a child’s life and balancing artistic productivity (or lack thereof, and the guilt that comes with it!) with reorienting yourself — and your sense of self — in both your artistic work and daily life post-baby. Finding your footing while juggling the responsibilities of being a parent can be extremely taxing, but Harumi and I discuss the importance nurturing your own confidence as a mother, artist, and educator, nonetheless. Additionally, Harumi provides insight into the challenge of communicating culture and heritage to her toddler while being inspired by her daughter’s experience to relive the childlike sensation of seeing the world with new eyes.
You can see more of Harumi’s work on her website or on IG @harumi_abe
The Artist/Mother podcast is created and hosted by Kaylan Buteyn. You can see more of Kaylan’s work on her website or connect with her on Instagram @kaylanbuteyn