Akiko Sugiyama and Jean Yao are two of the most widely revered fiber artists in the state. In contrast to Carol Prusa, whose creative energies are directed toward the tiniest and most expansive elements of our world, Akiko Sugiyama and Jean Yao focus on the materials and structures of the natural world in which we live.
Sugiyama uses rice paper to create wonderfully delicate forms in a wide variety of shapes and compositions. She cuts, rolls, coils, and layers the paper, adding just a few touches of other organic materials to enhance her work. Her works are wall-mounted but very definitely three-dimensional, sometimes taking the shapes of house structures or boat forms, but just as often working as purely non-representational sculpture. Her colors are generally muted, allowing viewers the opportunity both to appreciate the natural beauty of the materials and to recognize the painstaking effort and patience required to create her works.
Jean Yao makes baskets. And she makes great baskets. Woven from indigenous Florida materials, her baskets are functional and beautiful recyclings of one of the most recognizable parts of our state’s landscape: its palm trees.
Her forms are influenced by a mix of Asian functional vessels, traditional basketry, and her own sense of what is possible from the challenging toughness of palm fronds and flowers. Though she keeps her works unadorned by artificial color, she is able to create a great range of patterns, colors and textures that allows her work to be appreciated as fine art sculpture.