Shinichi “Miya” Miyazaki

I was born in Tokyo, Japan in 1939 and earned my Bachelor of Fine Arts in painting from Tokyo National University of Art and Music in 1965. I decided to move to New York in 1967 where I was fortunate to work as an assistant to abstract sculptor Minoru Niizuma and as a model builder for prominent Japanese American artist and landscape architect, Isamu Noguchi. While I continued to paint, I began working more and more with wood, in sculpture, furniture design and fabrication, and fine interior woodworking.

My work caught the eye of the National Endowment for the Arts and one of my chairs was selected in 1975 for the Smithsonian Institution exhibit. It was later purchased for the Smithsonian’s permanent collection.

In the late seventies and early eighties, I dabbled in the world of high fashion, designing and producing the extremely popular hand-dyed down coats. By the mid-eighties, I was ready to get back to the simple elegance of wood, so I moved to rural Massachusetts in 1984 and resumed my work in sculpture, furniture and cabinetry. I took a break from the large pieces in the early nineties to create wooden handbags. Though well received in the fashion world and even used on the runway in Paris during Fashion Week by couture designer Chado Ralph Rucci, it was not long before I was back in my studio working on sculpture and furniture—this time from whole logs.

An Exploration of Discovery and Gratitude

The wood compels me. Each log, each piece evolved out of its existence as a living organism with a unique history, a life of its own. Whether we have been aware of it or not, each tree has made the planet habitable and kept us alive—not only biologically but aesthetically and spiritually as well. By the time a tree gets to me, it has been around for decades—sometimes even centuries—and has fallen or had to be cut down. I feel an obligation to mark its existence. Certainly, I hope to infuse my work with my own heart and soul, but basically I am trying to say thank you.