JUSFC40: Meet Our Grantees Series: Katie Cercone- Visual Artist

May 11, 2016 

Go! Push Pops and XHOSA, photo: Ishmael Thoth Ra, 2014

Go! Push Pops and XHOSA, photo: Ishmael Thoth Ra, 2014

In celebration of its 40th anniversary, the Japan-U.S. Friendship Commission is having conversations with a number of grantees.

Visual artist Katie Cercone was awarded a U.S.-Japan Creative Artist Exchange Fellowship in 2015. The Fellowship is funded by the Japan-U.S. Friendship Commission and administered in partnership with the National Endowment for the Arts. “It was really a moment to solely focus on my creative work and my research. I loved everything about the culture – the food, the sacred space, and the rituals,” Cercone says.

She focused on hip hop and fashion, spending time meeting and connecting with young people. One particularly moving experience was when she visited Mount Takao and the Buddhist community there. “I saw a fire ceremony. There was a big bonfire and several monks chanting. Everyone present walked barefoot over the coals at the end. That was really touching. A big part of my work was looking at the sacred ritual. That was really profound.”

Cercone also shared her own work during her residency in Japan. She led the PRAY WILD Go! Push Pops Workshop and Spirit Animal Parade with the International House of Japan. “We did a one day workshop that incorporated yoga, mindfulness, and neo-shamanic themes drawing from a lot of Japan’s traditional spirit worship,” she explains, “participants were able to make their own costumes of their spirit animal and participate in the parade.” Cercone adds, “We also applied contemporary culture of anime and cartoon worlds – and we did a street parade on Roppongi Art Night in Tokyo.” View the parade.

Cercone is quick to say that the fellowship helped her grow as an artist. “I was able to connect to a part of myself I was hiding from or maybe trying to express in a less conscious way in my art,” she muses. “It was a real moment of success. It helped me gain a better understanding of who I was and what I wanted to present in the world. I felt more integrity and consciousness in the kind of art I am creating.”

Cercone recently completed the final version of a film she made on the hip-hop and Harajuku fashion scene entitled SOLARA Saturnalia (Kawaii Kali REDUX), which she has shown in New York City, Dallas, Miami and Serbia.