Skip to content

Naomi Kawanishi Reis has exhibited at @KCUA (Kyoto), Youkobo Art Space (Tokyo), Transmitter (Brooklyn, NY), Mixed Greens (New York, NY), and Brooklyn Academy of Music, among others. In 2018 she received a Joan Mitchell Foundation Painters & Sculptors Grant, and in 2015 was a NYFA Finalist in Painting. Residencies that have supported her work include Yaddo, Wave Hill (Bronx, NY), the Robert Blackburn Printmaking Workshop, and the Lower East Side Printshop. A founding member of artist-run gallery Tiger Strikes Asteroid NY (2012-2017), in 2015-2019 she co-organized the collective AN/OTHER NY: a nomadic workspace for Asian art practitioners to gather through workshops and public events. She is also a founding member of the Inner Fields NY sangha and reading group. She holds an MFA from the University of Pennsylvania, and a BA in Transcultural Identity from Hamilton College. Born in Shiga, Japan, Naomi Kawanishi Reis makes 2D works using everyday materials like paper, blades, and brushes to focus on idealized spaces—utopian architecture, conservatory gardens, and still life. Reis also works as a Japanese-English translator; her visual practice provides a way to think directly through the hands via manual labor in a space without words. She currently lives on unceded Lenape land in Brooklyn, NY.

Artist Statment:

Bursting with plant life, Naomi Kawanishi Reis’s work explores the intersection between the natural and built worlds. Drawing from her upbringing in Kyoto, Japan, the idea of the garden — worlds contained within small footprints — and Japanese aesthetics form the foundation of her practice. Her use of tactile materials centered around washi (paper made from fibers of the mulberry plant) pays tribute to the history of manual labor and the many hands that have transmitted knowledge through generations.

Reis’s current mixed media paintings feature ephemeral moments from everyday life captured on a smartphone—weeds, wildflowers, shadows on pavement. In translating these split-second observations into labor-intensive paintings of layered paper, the work celebrates the overlooked, quiet beauty of the margins. This poetry found in everyday life reminds us of the latent power of the ordinary; small can be transformative and a powerful engine for change.

Back To Top