Leika Kitamura is 17-year-old artist and writer. She lives in Glendale, Arizona and attends the Metropolitan Arts Institute in downtown Phoenix. She also displayed work at our launch show on February 26th.
What themes or subjects are typically involved in your art? Are there any particular styles or influences you would cite?
Leika Kitamura: Right now I’m working on a body of work (including my self portrait) about being mixed race and having a fully white half brother and a fully Japanese half brother, so I’m painting portraits of them to sort of discuss that duality. I think most of my work has been about people and how they are and interact with each other. Recently I’ve been really into George Segal’s plaster work and how it shows off mundane human life, and I think it’s really driven a lot of the things I’ve been trying to make, plus just color palettes in buildings and movies are really inspiring to me rather than specific artists or movement.
Do you feel that digital culture or being a digital native has impacted or affected your work in any way?
LK: I think digital culture has totally shifted and articulated the way I seek out art and inspiration to make art. Online I’ve been able to be exposed to a way larger community of art and artists that I never would have been able to access, which has helped me develop my own personal style through seeing so many different formats of art. It’s definitely allowed me to explore different themes and really seek to access certain audiences and importance in my work.
What’s it like going to Metropolitan Arts Institute?
LK: Going to Metro is a lot different than the old public high school I used to go to. It’s 250 kids in a smaller office-type building all trying to access their passions intensely and all at the same time. It was really difficult at first being surrounded by a bunch of talented kids and trying to find my voice and style then, but I’ve really been able to find what works best for me and the best process for myself to create work out of. The staff is all really adamantly supportive and the resources are incredible, considering its small size. It has pretty much been the best decision I have made to go to Metro.
Where do you see yourself headed in the future? Either educationally, career-wise, or other concepts to explore as an artist?
LK: I am currently looking into trying to study in Japan for my undergraduate and thinking about some kind of embassy work post-grad, but mostly I want to be involved with people, whether it be in my work, education or art. Short term speaking, I would like to branch out with the content I am creating and reach out more in the community and outside of my community and try to form more relationships around that but long term, I am definitely trying to develop more internationally minded relationships around whatever I do.
You can find more of Leika’s art on her Instagram @leikart