Creating with a Sojourner’s Heart – Day 348

Artwork: "Sojourning #3" by Chiyoko Myose. Copyright © Chiyoko Myose
“Sojourning #3” by Chiyoko Myose. Copyright © Chiyoko Myose

The artist is the ultimate observer, a visual journalist of sorts, depicting travels far and wide in the physical, mental, emotional and spiritual realms. Some artists are very grounded in their sense of place in the physical world while others use their art as a vehicle in their search for a place to call “home.”

Chiyoko Myose grew up in Japan, but has been living in the U.S. for many years. Her work expresses her personal feelings and experiences as a sojourner and her longing for a place to fully call home. “I still feel torn between these two places,” says Myose. “Not being able to fully choose either, I sense that I am just passing through and not fully part of these places on Earth, like a sojourner. Yet I have a longing for a place where I can find a sure foundation beyond differences in places and various values.”

Myose began her physical and spiritual quest with a series of drawings and paintings with the shape of a square. “This shape of a square represents a stone,” says the artist, “and implies ‘a notion of a foundation’ because of its solid and stable features. The composition of the imagery was inspired by kimono design. Employing the design elements in each work conceptually, I depicted the various thoughts and experiences that a sojourner faces, and at the same time, I expressed the process of imagining and revealing this ‘place’ in my mind.”

Artwork: "I Miss You" by Chiyoko Myose. Copyright © Chiyoko Myose
“I Miss You” by Chiyoko Myose. Copyright © Chiyoko Myose

In addition to painting, Myose also creates installations that offer additional perspectives into the artist’s search for meaning within the sojourner’s journey. Influences from her native Japanese culture are prevalent in many of these works of art, such as in her most recent installation called, “Hisakatano.”

Artwork: "Hisakatano" by Chiyoko Myose. Copyright © Chiyoko Myose
“Hisakatano” by Chiyoko Myose. Copyright © Chiyoko Myose

“This particular art installation was inspired by my memories of viewing the cherry blossoms in Japan and a shoji window, a Japanese paper sliding window,” says the artist. “I was concerned that the land and the people who are living there have been going through mourning and struggles after the earthquake and tsunami disaster as well as the nuclear accident from a year ago. Together with the light, shadow, mirrors, and reflection of the mirrors, I expressed my thoughts and prayers for my original country and the people there.”

I asked Myose if creating work like this helped give her a sense of “home” while living in Kansas. “For me, elements from Japanese culture were used in my artwork to suggest aspects such as memories from Japan, my thoughts about Japan or my feelings of cultural displacement – it varies depending on the work,” she responded. “I think, however, that art does have a cathartic effect – creating these works may help lessen my thoughts about Japan, so it may help me feel less like a ‘sojourner’ in America and make my life in America easier to a certain extent.”

“However,” she continues, “it rather makes me wonder if I can find any place on earth to be a true home for me. I think neither America nor Japan can be. For me, the place to fully call home is the place where I will spend eternity. This kind of personal question is the beginning of my journey of creating art with this sojourner’s theme.”

Artwork: "Sojourning #11" by Chiyoko Myose. Copyright © Chiyoko Myose
“Sojourning #11” by Chiyoko Myose. Copyright © Chiyoko Myose

In her current paintings, Myose uses three distinct layers to express the different facets of her life as a sojourner. “For the first layer, the far background, I paint the simplified landscape with rolling hills,” says the artist. “The wide open landscape which is typical in Kansas is very different from Japan and appeals to me greatly. However, this landscape also suggests troubling and confusing personal questions. Where am I going from this point in time? Do I fully have a place in this vast land of America, both now and in the future? These questions remind me that I am like a sojourner, a person who doesn’t fully identify with this land very well. This background landscape represents my current place or current environment.”

The second layer with the fluid lines has two meanings. “One is my relationship with the places where I used to live,” says Myose. “As a sojourner, I often think about places in the past. I depict my feelings toward these places just like an act of crocheting laces. In the Japanese language, the word ‘crocheting’ can also be used to mean ‘compiling things.’ I am compiling my subjective image of these places by gathering my memories from these places and today’s feelings toward them in the form of laces. This layer also represents, as a second meaning, various values that I have in my life.”

The third layer with the painterly geometric shapes expresses the artist’s spiritual journey, longing for that place with “foundation.” “I understand that this place does not exist in this three dimensional world,” says Myose. “I also know that the reality of this place is far beyond my imagination. And yet, my sojourner’s journey will continue. I don’t know what my future holds. The one thing I know is wherever I go I will keep longing for this place deep in my mind – just like countless sojourners have done in the past.”

How does she feel when observing her finished work? Does it help satisfy that longing in some respects? “In the finished work, I see the honest revelation of my thoughts and condition as a sojourner,” says the artist. “The works sometimes teach me about life as well. Recently, I was told that music can be seen in my finished paintings, which was a very eye-opening and exciting perspective for me. Now I see every finished painting of mine making music and I am enveloped by sounds and melodies whenever I stand in front of them. I was depicting an honest reality of mine, but as a result, I was making music without even noticing it! Probably, my life can be like that. Even if I have various difficulties being a sojourner, I will be able to see beautiful music when I look back at my life. If that is true, I would embrace the difficulties in my life and live this life on Earth as much as I can. That’s the kind of thing I think about when I look at my finished paintings these days.”

Chiyoko Myose believes that many people are sojourners in one way or another. To her, this act of art-making is an act of prayer and a process for consoling, for herself as well as for others. It is her hope that her paintings will evoke social and spiritual questions, and that her images will make beautiful music in their minds.

SerenaK signature

Artwork: "The Tried and Precious Corner Stone" by Chiyoko Myose. Copyright © Chiyoko Myose
“The Tried and Precious Corner Stone” by Chiyoko Myose. Copyright © Chiyoko Myose

Artist Credits for the images included in this post:

Sojourning #3
Chiyoko Myose, (Japan) Kansas
Oil on canvas

Sojourning #11
Chiyoko Myose, (Japan) Kansas
Oil on canvas

Chiyoko Myose, (Japan) Kansas
Mixed media installation: Paper, light, mirror, thread

I Miss You
Chiyoko Myose, (Japan) Kansas
Oil on canvas

The Tried and Precious Corner Stone
Chiyoko Myose, (Japan) Kansas
Oil on canvas
Chiyoko Myose’s artwork can be viewed at: Chiyoko Myose

The 365 Days Project

In 2012, Serena Kovalosky committed to writing an article a day for 365 days as an exploration into the lives of artists and the value of creative thinking in our society.

Experience the full evolution of the project! Click below to read the entire collection of articles.Click to view The 365 Days Project

Leave a Reply

Create a website or blog at

Up ↑