Hiromi Katayama will never forget the moment when she found a single, small cherry blossom tree outside her studio during her first year of study in the United States. She has never missed Japan as much as she did in that moment. The experience triggered an intense memory of home, which invoked very strong emotions. Katayama now uses the cherry blossom tree in her artwork as both a symbol of where she comes from, as well as an iconic symbol of Japanese culture. Since Japan's natural disaster, Katayama has yearned for the resiliency so often seen in nature. Her paintings represent a wish to exist with nature and culture in a harmonious relationship - not only as the person she is, but also as the person she will become.
Katayama's paintings are created in the Japanese traditional painting technique, Nihonga. She imports most of her painting materials, such as Japanese traditional pigments and animal-based collagen glue. The technique of mixing natural mineral pigments (“tennen iwa-enogu”) with animal glue, which is central to the tradition, has remained unchanged. “Tennen iwa-enogu” are pigments derived from natural ingredients: minerals, shells, corals and even semi-precious stones like malachite, azurite and cinnabar. The raw materials are powdered into about 16 gradations from fine to sandy grain textures. A hide glue solution, called “nikawa,” is used as a binder for these powdered pigments. Most of her artwork is painted on wooden panels or paper, which she has used to begin creating Japanese style screens. This method allows the imagery to build a connection for the viewer to her culture and background. The screens serve as a cultural barrier, which is always present, yet not always noticeable, in our everyday life.
Katayama, a native of Ibarki Japan, currently works from her private studio in Houston Pennsylvania. Her love for art began in the studio of her mentor, Renjoin Sensei, from the age of nine years old. Before she came to the United States, Katayama received her BFA in Japanese Traditional Painting from Joshibi University of Art and Design, Tokyo Japan, in 2008. That summer, Katayama traveled to Pennsylvania where she studied for her MFA in the painting program at Edinboro University of Pennsylvania. She graduated in May, 2012. At the close of her graduate studies, Katayama continued building her portfolio, gained international representation, and taught in both academic and community-based settings around the country. At the Armory Art Center in West Palm Beach Florida, Katayama expanded the 2D arts program. In Washington PA, Katayama brought a global perspective to Junior-Senior High Schools through the RAC grant program. Recently, Katayama joined the art department at Wheeling Jesuit University where she will teach drawing and painting classes to students from all academic disciplines.