Misa Sawairi

was born in Shizuoka City where time tends to drift more slowly. From a young age Sawairi excelled in developing stories instantaneously, manifesting them in various forms. When she was 9, Sawairi created a handmade birdcage for a friend. It had been assembled using small planks and driftwood found by the river, and had taken its form under the made­up assumption that “the girl’s new home will have a large tree in the garden and many birds will come to play there.” The birdcage may very well represent Sawairi’s first art piece.

Growing up through economic hard times, Sawairi, at the insistence of her parents who worried she wouldn’t find work, enrolled in a junior college where she received national qualifications to become a dental hygienist. Around the same time that she began working in a dental office Sawairi also discovered ikebana. Her first exhibition involved arranging flowers with dental equipment, thus falling into the intoxicating world of floral art.

In 2004, after working in various domestic venue decorations, Sawairi chose to go to England to further her investigation into flowers. After returning to Japan she found work by aggressively marketing herself, which led to various flower arrangement work in restaurants, salons and event spaces.

In December of 2007 on a trip to New York Sawairi became enthralled with a certain window display. It was a magnificent display of recycled parts and gave Sawairi the strong urge to work with materials beyond flowers. In 2008 she enrolled in a spatial design program at Kyoto University of Art and Design and furthered her studies as she worked. In response to Sawairi’s plan to create a window display as part of her graduating thesis, one of her professors asked her a question that would alter her way of thinking: “what exactly is a window display?” Sawairi didn’t have an answer and began contemplating on the essence of the medium.

One day at work Sawairi discovered a pile of flowers, cardboard and newspapers in a dump site at her job. She decided to create a life­size doll named “eco­chan.” As she worked, a man stood by watching her the entire time. After completing her doll Sawairi went back to her job. When she returned later she found a group of people gathered around eco­chan as the man explained to the group what it was. It was the moment Sawairi discovered the essence of window display art. But it also represented the origin of her ongoing art project, “Ripple Trip.”

Borrowing from the reaction that occurs when a small rock is thrown into a pond, Sawairi decided to become the rock that creates ripples of communication in different locations. The work has come to manifest itself in contrasting photographs of a site, before and after the rock has been cast into the water. While acting as a documentation of her travels, the photographs, more importantly, serve as a canvas for Sawairi’s ultimate form of communication.

“Communication isn’t an ability,” she says. “If it was, children would be the most advanced communicators. We have all once been there.”

By continuing “Ripple Trip,” Sawairi hopes to install window displays around the world and share her ultimate form of communication with many different people. Her work now transcends its previous narrow interpretation and exists beyond stores and shops as a window into her own soul.