Laconia’s Kazuko Okubo expresses creativity through unusual technique, will travel to Japan for further skills
By ALANA PERSSON, LACONIA DAILY SUN
LACONIA — Painting on a blank canvas never came naturally for Kazuko Okubo. In fact, the Laconia resident struggled with painting so much that an art teacher in Boston once told her she had no talent and should stop pursuing art. These comments didn't stop Okubo from finding ways of expressing her creativity, however, as one day she decided to paint an egg, break it, and use the eggshells to piece together a picture, and was startled at how easily the pieces started coming together. Thus, from that moment on, Okubo had found her talent in eggshell art.
The practice of eggshell art is individualistic, as each artist uses their own choice of paints, layering and technique when creating the picture. For Okubo, she paints the egg first before crushing the shell into small pieces that can then be arranged into a picture. Sometimes it can take Okubo up to six months to create the best picture possible, as she often rearranges the placement of the eggshell pieces multiple times in order to best capture the image.
"You can make as many mistakes with eggshell art as you want, because if you don't like what it looks like with pieces in certain places then you can just move them," said Okubo, who further said that with canvas painting if you make a mistake it is permanent and you cannot easily change the outcome.
With what started just a hobby at the senior center in town, eggshell artwork has now become a passion for Okubo and has changed the course of her life. In 2012, Okubo was awarded the President's Award for Art at Plymouth State University, where she has been taking classes periodically to continue her education. Through this recognition and collection of artwork she has created while at PSU, she now has the opportunity to teach eggshell art to students in Japan. Okubo will return to her home country for the first time in 28 years on Sunday, Aug. 21, and will remain in Osaka for one year. The school bringing Okubo to Japan is paying for most of her expenses; however, she is short on some of the cost. To help raise money for this exchange program in Japan, she has started a GoFundMe account at https://www.gofundme.com/kazuko.
"I am excited to be back in Japan and it will be the first time teaching people in my native language so I think that it will be easier," said Okubo.
While in Japan, Okubo will have the opportunity to not only teach classes but take classes in English and Japanese translation, as well in traditional Japanese music. She hopes that through her various educational experiences in Japan and at PSU that she can continue to be a lifelong learner, and also help the cultures of the United States and Japan connect through her work.
Once the exchange is finished, Okubo plans to return to Laconia and teach eggshell art classes at Gilford Public Library next summer. -
Japanese eggshell artist Kazuko Okubo leaves for Japan at the end of August to teach the practice to native Japanese students. (Alana Persson/Laconia Daily Sun)