Skip to content

Yu Araki

Tell us about where you work, what you do, and what you’re working on right now.
I work from a tiny desk at my parents’ home. I haven’t had a studio space since I graduated from WashU, so basically everything happens on my laptop, or at the site of my exhibitions in galleries and museums. I’ve been extremely lucky to continue on with my video installation practice for a decade now, and recently I’ve begun to show my works in film festivals, as well. I’m currently working on an online video piece commissioned by the Sydney Opera House, and also a remote collaborative video project with my friends in Hong Kong and Amsterdam.

What does your typical day look like?
I hate to admit it, but I spend most of my day staring at my computer screen…it’s so unhealthy.

What do you love most about what you do?
The fact that your artwork turns into a vehicle which takes you to all kinds of new places, meeting wonderful people. I didn’t realize this aspect when I was an art student, and it is incredibly rewarding.

What did you learn as an art student that you’d be lost without today?
The unencumbered time that you have with your medium. At least in the sculpture department back then, it trained me to look at things and talk about them without any biases or preconceptions. This is not as easy as it sounds. In hindsight, our group critique was about the relationship between yourself and what is in front of your eyes, and I learned how to talk the work in front of me about solely as materials and visual information. The meaning comes second. It was as if you are learning and unlearning at the same time. That’s something I find very meaningful, even to this day.

Must-have desk snack?
This nutrition bar called SOY JOY.

What’s the biggest project you ever carried back from Bixby to the dorms?
A giant wire-sculpture of my right hand, which was about as big as my body.

Favorite WashU memory that you can share with the general public.
The toughest question of all! I don’t know if I can choose, since there are just simply too many. Aside from catching Talib Kweli’s performance at WILD, I must say that the best WashU experience actually extends beyond graduation—that you’re still in touch with some of your closest friends that you made at WashU, and those friendships continue on. I think that’s the best part about it, and it really tells how great of a community it is.

What is your favorite thing about St. Louis?
I like the size of the city—it’s not too big, not too small. I miss going to Cardinals games, seeing great exhibitions at the Pulitzer, catching films at the Tivoli…again, there are too many!

What advice would you give to our students?
Don’t take four studio courses in a semester—you end up pulling three all-nighters, and your final printmaking assignment will be wet from your own drool.

Tell us something we should know about you that we forgot to ask.
Nothing I can think of. Thank you for having me, and please stay safe, everyone!

Alumni work

Installation view featuring a video on a wide, high screen showing two figures in the dark. Installation is set in a sleek-looking, dimly lit bar; a car is parked under the video screen next to a couple of round tables with drinks.

Installation view of a video screen with an animation on it on the left wall, in a darkly lit room with indigo wallpaper with a black pattern. Two speakers are on the wall above the monitor.

*LE SOUVENIR DU JAPON*, 2019. Installation view at Shiseido Gallery, Tokyo. © KenKATO.

Instllation view of three small works on the floor, leaned against a wall.

*HONEYMOON*, 2020. Installation view at Pola Museum of Art. © KenKATO.