APRIL 14 - JUNE 11

  • Opening Reception / Meet the Artist: Friday, April 14 / 5-8pm
  • Free and open to the public
  • Art Round Town: Friday, May 5 & June 2. 5-8pm.*

Artist Statement:
I was born and raised in Japan, where all schoolchildren learn calligraphy. Calligraphy has become an entrance point to understanding my own culture as it allows me to recognize the existence of underlying meanings in all forms—language, images, even the mundane interactions of being. This craft provides the foundation and inspiration for my practice.

To speak to the core of humanity, I seek connections among cultures both from the past and present and ground myself with the origins of various matters from my native and adopted cultures through my research. My recent works attempt to highlight an oft-forgotten engagement in contemporary society—a deeper connection with one’s own spirit. While the paintings present a moment of this spiritual engagement, I hope viewers enjoy travelling through their own inner landscapes.

KuroKuroShiro, meaning black-black-white in Japanese, offers spaces where viewers can privately immerse themselves in their own psychological and spiritual world. They are painted with Sumi, an ink traditionally used in East Asia made of soot and animal glue, and it offers a wide range of tones and depths in black. The particles in soot carry an essence that permeates the surrounding environment, and can be absorbed by the maker, viewer, or other nearby materials. If the viewer is receptive to this phenomenon, this opens up space for the collective spirit to freely travel around, bringing colors into viewers’ eyes. I believe that soot in Sumi represents not only the spirit of ourselves but also that of the land we stand on. I use unique Sumi sticks from master craftsmen in Kobaien, Kijuen, and Kinkouen in Nara, Japan. I was able to travel to these workshops and bond with both the people and the land on which the Sumi sticks were made. I then arrange multiple saturations of this ink on handmade gesso panels and papers to orchestrate dynamic and abstracted landscapes. The subtle shifts of blacks provide a painted world for transcendent and imaginative realms to emerge. My ultimate hope is that viewers can walk away from my work with visual and mental frames for their spiritual world to linger, form, and exist.

Nishiki Sugawara-Beda bio:
Nishiki Sugawara-Beda is a Japanese-American visual artist based in painting and installation. She draws upon her Japanese heritage to explore themes related to culture, language, and spirituality rooted in Zen Buddhism. Connecting across space and time, she experiments in ancient Japanese materials and techniques including Sumi ink, Kakejiku landscapes, and rice paper, to merge them with abstract and expressive forms familiar to the modern Western aesthetic.

Sugawara-Beda exhibits her work in solo and group exhibitions and offers lectures nationally and internationally to promote cultural diversity and exchange. Exhibition venues include the Spartanburg Art Museum (SC), Morris Graves Museum of Art (CA), Dennos Museum (MI), Amos Eno Gallery (NY), and Cris Worley Fine Arts (TX). Publications include New American Paintings, AEQAI, Athenaeum Review, London Post, Art Spiel, and WhiteHot. Awards including a Seed Grant, Diversity Fellowship, International Enhancement Grant, Idaho Arts Fellowship, Sam Taylor Fellowship, Tusen Takk Foundation residency, and Dallas Museum of Art Otis and Velma Davis Dozier Travel Fund have supported her artistic research.

In addition to national conferences, including the College Art Association, Sugawara-Beda also gives keynote speeches and workshops to cultural organizations including Pilipino American Unity for Progress, Inc., OCA-Asian Pacific American Advocates, and Business Council for the Arts, Dallas. See You There, a full-color art book surveying her work from 2012 to 2020, is published by Execute Magazine in 2021.


*Art 'Round Town is a gallery walk in Portsmouth on the first Friday of each month.


Stay connected to the Gallery from home: view the virtual Gallery!


Grant support for this exhibit provided by:

Generously supported by:


3S Artspace is supported in part by a grant from the New Hampshire State Council on the Arts and the National Endowment for the Arts.

3S Artspace is supported by the New England Foundation for the Arts through the New England Arts Resilience Fund, part of the United States Regional Arts Resilience Fund, an initiative of the U.S. Regional Arts Organizations and The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, with major funding from the federal CARES Act and the American Rescue Plan from the National Endowment for the Arts.


Thank you to our year-round Lead Sponsor: