Invited Artist Minori Aoki from Yamagata talks about her enthusiasm for TORIGOYA artist-in-residence



I am Minori Aoki, artist living and working in Yamagata City.

I create two-dimensional artworks based on themes such as the ‘unreasonableness’ and ‘violence’ of mountains and nature, or ‘disasters’.

Impression of the town of Hirono

The chimneys of the thermal power plants are impressive. They can be seen from everywhere in the town. I love huge structures in the countryside landscape, such as motorway viaducts, so I think the landscape with the smokestacks in Hirono is really cool.

I also have the impression that there are surprisingly many hills. I thought Hirono is a bit plainer. This time I came here by car, so I don’t mind the hills, but I would like to increase the number of days I walk from the hotel to Hirono Miraikan, where the studio is located, to build up my fitness.

Then there is the sea. I was born and raised in a mountainious town, so just the sight of the sea gets me excited. Just today (20 December), when I was working at Hirono Miraikan, I saw the Ship “Sunflower” sailing by. Various other vessels operate off the coast of Hirono, which is fun to watch.


I will do my best to bring contemporary art closer to the residents of Hirono.

On 17 December, we held a workshop with residents of Hirono. The content was something like ‘Tell us a story about the sea’. The participants were asked to simply write down on a piece of paper an image or event of the sea that left an impression on them.

We were able to hear about various ‘sea stories’, such as the coastline of Hirono, which cannot be seen now, stories about the sea seen in evacuation centres, the sea at the time of the earthquake, the sound of the sea… etc.

By using your stories in my work, I want to make contemporary art and the Torigoya event more familiar to people.

Image drawing 1 by Minori Aoki
Image drawing 2 by Minori Aoki

The plan I am now considering is to turn the rice fields where the torigoya takes place into a snowy scene. In my home town of Nagai, Yamagata Prefecture, there is an event called Yahahaero, which is similar to Torigoya, but Yahahaero is held in the middle of snowy rice paddies, and this scene gives me a hint. What would happen if there was snow in Hirono? What colour would the sea look like? Hirono has a strong wind, so the sea itself might be obscured by the snowstorm…? This is what I would like to create while thinking about these questions.