Haruko Okano is an installation and environmental artist whose work has been exhibited both nationally and internationally. Since the mid 1990’s Haruko changed the nature of her artistic practice and lifestyle to bring them into closer alignment with her concerns for the natural environment. Breaking away from her Eurocentric art education, she began to integrate methods and means that include elements from her Japanese ancestry and other holistic traditions common to many hunter-gatherer cultures around the world. She often seeks to use recycled and organic materials in her installations.
Collaboration is the earmark of her practice, whether that is in community-developed art, working in tandem with other artists, or in partnership with animals in their natural habitat. One of her community engaged art projects, the Mount Pleasant Fence Project, brought together diverse community members to build a picket fence around their community garden with pickets they designed and carved themselves. Working across six different languages, this award-wining project was an early example of community-engaged art in Vancouver. It is featured in artist Pat Beaton’s documentary 1001 Cups of Tea.
Links and Publications
Haruko Okano talks at Goddard Port Townsend (Video, Haurko Okano talks about her work as a guest in Goddard College’s Spring 2008 residency)
Haruko Okano: Hands of the Compassionate One (Article by Robin Laurence, as part of Open Book: A catalogue of artworks from the Surrey Art Gallery’s permanent collection)