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Kathy Aoki is a multi-disciplinary visual artist who uses satire to critique the absurd value systems that dominate gender, pop culture, and politics. Her printmaking work can be found in major collections across the U.S. including the New York Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco. She has been an artist-in-residence at numerous venues including MacDowell (NH), the Headlands Center for the Arts (CA), and Frans Masereel Centrum (Belgium). Aoki has completed commissions for the San Francisco Arts Commission, the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts Museum, and the San Jose Museum of Art. Her studio is located in the San Francisco Bay Area where she is a Professor of Studio Art at Santa Clara University.
I express my profound disappointment in societal trends by subverting traditional museum formats with a twist of humor. Through satire and invented narrative, I deploy artistic strategies of resistance to critique societal power structures associated with gender, beauty, and politics. Using revisionist tactics, my work operates both within and against the language and signifiers of institutions such as museums and monuments. I often employ didactic wall labels, audio tour, and reverential vitrines to parody the ubiquitous authority, pomp, and self-assurance of institutional conventions. The unsuspecting patron is taken on a wild ride of fictitious academic excellence while wondering, “Is this what we will value in 500 years?”
My work formats include sculpted “artifacts,” dioramas, video, and 2-d artwork in a variety of art historical styles to evoke specific time periods. Past solo exhibitions satirically hailed Brazilian waxing (an extreme beauty treatment), depicted fallen monuments to patriarchy, and elevated Hello Kitty to Mount Rushmore status. A performance aspect as “curator” complements the work via lectures delivered with fictitious academic excellence and dry humor.