Ayumi Takahashi has the first studio space, the one that you walk into right when you open the door of the Nina Street Studio. She’s a little lady who was the only other artist present when we visited. She sat at a small desk working away on a few colored pencil drawings. She had a lacy white top on with a bright pink bra not-so-hidden underneath: it’s both a subtle and bold statement, much like her work.
Ayumi’s work is a very colorful mashing of pattern plays and Japanese/Chinese popular culture and art. The resulting work has a certain amount of whimsy and fantasy to it: she leaves the door open for oversized animals to enter, anime characters to make cameos, and self-reflexive interests to seep in. Her paintings and drawings aren’t intended to be careless fun but there is a lightness to what she’s making because everything is so cute and colorful and animated. If you see one piece, you want to see another and another and another because they all seem to inform each other.
Of all the artists at Nina Street, Ayumi appears to have her hands in most artistic baskets. In addition to the colored pencil work she was very meticulously completing, there were paintings, small sculptures, a giant hanging mobile, and printed patterns hanging around, all by her. The pattern making is definitely an interesting route to take because it’s an effortless, sensical alternative expression for her. Taking a look at this, this, and this pattern, you notice that these are less about fulfilling an order and more of using similar forms to tell a story. That story just gets to be told on a t-shirt or towel or blanket. Who wouldn’t want a shirt with a bunch of her Stylish Heads on them?
Ayumi is a great talent. She’s also the only female presence at Nina Street Studio, an irony as the studio has a woman’s name to it. Her position in the studio also makes it very easy for her to constantly be interacting with everyone else and has access to critiques and commentary since everyone is passing through her space. It’s no wonder Ben had mentioned a possible Takahashi/Sanders pairing to make patterns. We’ll be waiting to see when that collaboration comes.