Kathy Aoki addresses beauty, gender, and pop-culture issues through familiar visual formats injected with a twist of humor. Her ongoing series, collectively entitled “The Museum of Historical Makeovers,” has roots in art history, beauty trends, feminism, and museology. Through a simulated museum framework, the work delivers wry, feminist reflections on today’s values. Past solo exhibitions featured ersatz historical prints, paintings, sculptures, and immersive installations that pay mock homage to beauty and cuteness.
In summer 2019, Aoki will return to the Frans Masereel Centrum in Belgium for a printmaking research residency. From October 2019 through January 2020, Aoki will be an artist-in-residence at the Recology AIR program in San Francisco. Her past awards include fellowships from Kala Art Institute (1995), the MacDowell Colony (2001), Headlands Center for the Arts (2003), Djerassi (2006), Val Paraiso (2013) and Frans Masereel Centrum (2013). Her work can be found in major collections across the U.S. such as the New York Metropolitan Museum of Art, SFMOMA , the Harvard University Art Museums, and the New York Public Library.
Past commissioned projects included a 2004 grant from the San Francisco Public Arts Commission for the Art on Market Street Kiosk Poster Project. Her series of linocut prints were transformed into 4 x 6 ft posters entitled “Champions of Market St.” showing Market St. pedestrians dressed in super-hero garb performing random acts of kindness. In January 2012, Aoki completed the interactive “Political Paper Dolls”art installation commissioned by the San Jose Museum of Art for the exhibition “Renegade Humor.” Aoki received the Prix-de-Print award in the journal Art in Print (Nov-Dec 2015 issue), as selected by Stephen Goddard, Professor of History of Art and Associate Director and Senior Curator at the Spencer Museum of Art, University of Kansas, Lawrence. The essay can be found here. In 2016, Aoki was commissioned to create three photopolymer intaglio prints for display and and acquisition by the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts Museum in Philadelphia, for the exhibition “Happiness, Liberty, Life? American Art and Politics.”