Sum & Substance: Sayumi Yokouchi

Sum & Substance: Sayumi Yokouchi

Sayumi Yokouchi Secret Brooch Gardens Series

Secret brooch (Gardens Series), 2014, felt polishing buffs, sterling silver, abrasive stones, bone, thread, coffee, 3.1 x 3.1 x 1.6 in.; Photo: Courtesy of the artist

Collect everyday materials, and you’ll see texture. Sayumi Yokouchi harnesses that texture in work inspired by nature. Says Marilyn da Silva: “Sayumi Yokouchi uses found objects such as small, expendable components used by jewelers and elements found in our daily lives to create delicate yet provocative jewelry.”

How she got started: I made my first silver ring in high school. Since then I wanted to become a jeweler.

Her training: I started at Cabrillo College in California, studying metalsmithing and jewelry making, in 1990. I earned my BFA at California College of the Arts in 1997. I received my MFA in metals at SUNY New Paltz, studying with Jamie Bennett and Myra Mimlitsch-Gray. In 2005, I studied goldsmithing with Robert Smit at Alchimia in Italy.

How she describes her work: I start by collecting and isolating the moment when materials progress from their original form into something new and precious. Various forms from the natural world serve as an important point of reference in my work. I’m interested in how the human world relates to the natural world.

Why she makes jewelry: To me, jewelry isn’t just about sparkly diamonds in precious metal. It is the freedom of material that I enjoy, in relation to the ability to handle the objects. Endless possibility in material use invites unlimited imagination, and the results can be very personal or public, yet they connect people to different experiences.

Her biggest reward: When I’m able to free myself in the process of thinking and making.

Her artistic influences: Bettina Dittlmann, Tom Friedman, Tokujin Yoshioka, Cornelia Parker, Taiyo Matsumoto, Daniel Kruger, and Japanese classic literature.

What she’s working on now: I’m working toward a small exhibition this fall.