Wendy Maruyama MFA ’80
College of Art and Design
Professor Emeritus, San Diego State University
Furniture maker, artist and educator Wendy Maruyama has been making innovative work for 40 years. While her early work combined ideologies of feminism and traditional craft objects, her newer work moves beyond the boundaries of traditional studio craft and into the realm of social practice.
Since 1994, Wendy has been creating works inspired by the memory of her childhood growing up as a Japanese-American, her interpretation of her ethnic heritage, and her observations of the Japanese culture, looking in from the outside. Born in La Junta, Colorado, to second-generation Japanese American parents, she has made several pilgrimages to the land of her heritage, Japan. At times reverent of Japan’s craft history and advanced technology, and appalled by Japan’s self-indulgent, materialistic and almost faceless and patriarchal society, Wendy vacillates between creating works that both emulate and satirize that culture.
Wendy was awarded an artist-in-residency opportunity at SUNY Purchase in fall 2008 and during this time she immersed herself in research and historical investigation of Executive Order 9066. The Tag Project was born out of this residency.
The Tag Project was part of a companion body of work, Executive Order 9066, addressing the forced evacuation and incarceration of Japanese Americans in 1942 after the bombing of Pearl Harbor. Her family was directly affected by the evacuation: but little was mentioned of this by Wendy’s mother or grandparents. This chapter in her family history was heavily veiled: because of this, she avoided any association with this connection.
Her latest work, The wildLIFE Project, focuses on the endangerment of elephants, a cause personal to Wendy. She recently took a sojourn to Kenya and met with wildlife advocates to investigate the dangers of the continued poaching of these magnificent animals. The trip served as a source of inspiration for the artist to create a new body of work and incorporate a strong societal message.
Wendy has recently retired from teaching at San Diego State University. In addition to SDSU, she has taught at Appalachian Center for Crafts, California College of Arts, and has taught for 35 years all total. She exhibited her work nationally for over four decades, with solo shows in New York City, San Francisco, Scottsdale, Indianapolis, Savannah, and Easthampton. She has exhibited internationally in Tokyo, Seoul, and London. Maruyama’s work can also be found in both national and international permanent museum collections, including the Victoria and Albert Museum, London; Dallas Museum of Art, Dallas; Tennessee State Museum, Nashville; Queen Victoria Museum and Art Gallery, Launceston, Australia; Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; Philadelphia Museum of Art; Museum of Art and Design, New York; Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Angeles; Mint Museum of Art, Charlotte; Fuller Craft Museum, Brockton; Mingei International Museum, San Diego; and the Oakland Museum of California.
Wendy is a recipient of several prestigious awards, including the California Civil Liberties Public Education Grant, 2010; several National Endowment for the Arts Grants for Visual Artists; the Japan/US Fellowship; and a Fulbright Research Grant to work in the UK.