Lenoir, NC – The Caldwell Arts Council announces a new exhibition titled “East, West, and Beyond,” featuring acrylic paintings by Keiko Genka of Garner, North Carolina. The exhibition will open May 6, 2022 and continue through June 24, 2022.

Keiko Genka holds a Bachelor of Art and Design from North Carolina State University. Her works have been featured in a number of gallery exhibitions across the state, and are included in many collections.

Keiko says, “To this day, I continue to carry my childhood fantasy. Coming from an eastern culture, my ideal world existed in colorfully illustrated books of foreign cities. I remember the cheerful colors and neatly designed architectural landscapes. My admiration for foreign places was so strong, that I now live outside my country of Japan. From a child’s eyes, the Japanese culture seemed so dull and colorless. Although I now realize the beauty of simplicity and subtlety in my own culture, I still try to capture the excitement I experienced in those western books from my teenage years.

“When I travel, unfamiliar places remind me that there is something special in every location. Each street corner has its own story, and it reveals the beauty of life and death. Besides my visual attraction to space, signage also provides curious insights when I plan my paintings. Even commercial and road signs can reveal intriguing aspects about a place. Recently I noticed myself painting more and more complex compositions. Somehow visual clutter is very appealing to my conscience. I see energy flow in it. Even though I despise chaotic living myself, I believe my paintings reflect our overloaded contemporary life style.

“It is ironic that now I am inspired by the beauty of Japan as well, and I consider my personal culture to be a fusion or hybrid of both east and west. Since I was born and raised in the east, Okinawa Japan, I carry with me sensibilities and traits from my early years of development from an eastern perspective. I have now lived in the west for a little more than half my life. Although I pursue the best from both these cultural experiences, I often struggle internally with battles caused by significant differences. Today, cultures are much more homogenized than they were during my youth. I wonder, is this a good transition or are we all losing our uniqueness?

“My perspective on east and west is that eastern cultures are nurtured or controlled by nature, while in the west, cultures predominantly aim at controlling nature. Both seem to have certain advantages, as well as disadvantages. To live in peace with myself, optimistically, I need to accept and adopt these differences and celebrate the enriched life as my reward.

“During the past 30 years, globalization has accelerated exponentially and brought much richness and abundance to human civilization. Again, I cannot help wondering if we are approaching one global “value,” and is that value moving toward conformity and a more bland, universal society?

“Today, most urban environments look and feel the same no matter where in the world one is located. And seldom do we visit a new place that does not offer almost any style, cuisine, and fashion, from all distant and local cultures.

“As I am processing my thoughts and translating them into my paintings, I am asking myself what can I extract from the complexities of our environment that present a true sense of harmony in our world? There is a simplicity in the foundations I am drawn to and inspired by, such as color, “architectural” spaces, and society’s rich need to communicate. With every mark I make, I am responding to the past (history) and present, as well as the influence these two aspects will have on our future. These circumstances, that is my Asian origin leading to living in the west, have inspired my exhibition’s title: ‘East (past), West (present), and Beyond (future fusion).’”

The Caldwell Arts Council is located at 601 College Ave SW in Lenoir, NC, and is open to the public Tuesday through Friday from 9am to 5pm. For more information, visit www.caldwellarts.com.