Plated - No. 2
MEGUMI SHAUNA ARAI
I’m excited to share the second installment of 'Plated,' our ongoing series where we ask creative people that we admire to share what feeds them—both literally and artistically—in their day-to-day lives.
A dear friend and supremely talented New York-based artist, Megumi Shauna Arai (represented by Object & Thing) has become known for tender works of hand-stitched textiles that are full of organic color and poetic movement.
I first met Megumi in 2017 when we were both working for Ladies & Gentlemen Studio. I was quickly drawn to her honest nature, bubbly energy, love of dancing, and her thoughtful care and attention to those around her. Over the years, she has become a dear friend.
Since then, I have had the pleasure of seeing her artful practice flourish. When I first saw the works she was producing I was blown away – these boro textiles that burst with movement, femininity and spirit. I quickly came to realize that what she was producing was the perfect embodiment of her personality and suddenly it all made absolute sense. I can't wait to see how far this beautiful practice takes her.
On the heels of a solo show at Tiwa Select and a residency in Kanagawa, Japan this past fall, Megumi made us lunch at her studio in Brooklyn and talked to us about the importance of rice cookers, stretching, and working with your hands.
WHAT HAVE YOU PLATED FOR US?
I made some simple Onigiri with kimchi and arugula—the perfect studio lunch.
HOW CAN WE REPLICATE THIS–WHAT DO WE NEED?
Your rice is important! I have an affinity for Koshihikari– probably because it’s what I grew up eating. Shirakiku Organic is what I use for everyday purposes. The Rice Factory is a good New York-based brand and I would highly suggest their Niigata Koshihikari. I also really like Agri Yamazaki Organic Koshihikari.
Second is a rice cooker, which is a staple in my house. When the rice is made, make sure to wet your hands with cold water and pat-pat-pat–make your rice ball! There are so many things you can put in the Onigiri–it really is a perfect, easy, and filling lunch.
You can include anything you like on the side– I added kimchi and some greens. My latest favorite discovery is Yuzu Vinegar dressing from Cabi, which is a NY/Tokyo- based food brand that launched last year–their sauces are so good, they upgrade every meal.
HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE WHAT YOU DO?
I’m an artist who works primarily with textiles.
TELL US ABOUT THE EMOTIONAL TIE THAT TETHERS YOU TO THE MEDIUM OF TEXTILES?
Looking back, I was drawn to fiber from early on. I randomly decided to get a spinning wheel when I was a teenager and would sit in my room and spin wool to meditate or just calm down. My practice in my early twenties was more image-based with some installation involved. I was working as a photographer to make money and all that was digital, very computer-heavy. In 2015, I got a grant to go to a residency in Shikoku, an area in Japan that is rich in the tradition of craft. I was studying the process of washi (traditional Japanese paper) when I realized I was so much happier when I was working with my hands. I was in heaven! We were stripping mulberry bark, boiling and pounding the material to prepare it for paper pulp. Paper-making is fiber based, so I guess that’s what got me and I did a complete 180 – from then on, it was fiber all the way.
When I look at my practice now, it reflects who I am and what is important to me in life. Being slow, being present, learning, practicing, connecting dots. Textile is a conduit for storytelling, which I am also fascinated by.
WHAT DOES A TYPICAL DAY LOOK LIKE IN YOUR LIFE?
I usually wake up, drink coffee, prepare lunch (if I’m not rushing) and then head to work at my studio in Brooklyn. When I have extra time, I like to take a walk before all of that in my neighborhood in the Lower East Side around Seward Park. Once I get to the studio, I start working right away and like to remain there uninterrupted as much as I can. I keep a yoga mat at the studio, so usually I’ll take a break in the afternoon to stretch.
OF ALL THE SPECIAL OBJECTS IN YOUR HOME, WHAT BRINGS YOU THE MOST JOY?
The things my loved ones have made for me bring me the most joy–I’m so lucky to have so many creative people in my life. I’d have to say the moon rock sculpture painting my boyfriend made me for my birthday a few years back takes the cake.
WHAT DOES THE YEAR AHEAD HOLD FOR YOUR PRACTICE?
Research, residencies, plus some group shows and collaborations – hopefully some teaching too!
HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE THIS TIME IN YOUR LIFE?