Sachiyo Yoshida graduated from MECA with me in 2006, then went directly on to graduate school to keep her student status here in the States. She is from Japan. Sachiyo stayed in Portland until August before making the drive out to an MFA program in the midwest. Before leaving, she asked me if I would be willing to sit for a portrait bust explaining that it would take multiple sittings of three hours each. I said yes. I had just finished my senior thesis, Portraits from my Father's Chair, a series of eighty portraits of the MECA community, and I was fried. The program at MECA is rigorous. A couple of doctors I know who have returned to school to get an art degree at MECA told me that the BFA program there is more difficult than medical school! I don't know about that, but I do know that after the intensity of those three and a half years at MECA, when I graduated I felt as if I'd been on a wild ride and then then abruptly kicked out on the curb.
So, the prospect of just sitting for hours watching someone else work sounded good to me, and after so many people had agreed to sit for my project, it seemed the right thing to do. I sat for about 20 hours - we worked in my first studio at The Artist Studio building - it had no windows and no AC (I have a new studio now with wonderful big windows overlooking Congress Street). We'd plug in a fan and Sachiyo would get to work. She is a hard worker! It's difficult to sculpt a portrait out of clay! For me the whole experience was soothing and meditative. I was still involved in the creative process but all I had to do was sit and observe and be still. Ah...to BE STILL. That was a great gift to me from Sachiyo. She helped me to get my skin back on after the tumult of my last semester. I look pretty worn out!
Here is Sachiyo and the completed portrait bust, and the portrait I did of her before she left Portland. Sachiyo exhibited both pieces together at her school in the midwest.
pastel, oil, charcoal, watercolor, and collage on Rives BFK, 29" x 41"
collection of Sachiyo Yoshida
Martha Miller, 2006