• Artist Editions: Mikki Yamashiro

    Designed exclusively for Urban Outfitters, Artist Editions is an ongoing series of limited, designs from some of our favorite new artists. 

    Mikki Yamashiro is a Los Angeles based artist/ wrestler bringing us paradigm-challenging crochet work. Scroll on to read more. 

    Photos by Dana Lynn Pleasant
    Can you introduce yourself — tell us more about who you are, where you’re from, and what you do.. 
    Hi, my name is Mikki Yamashiro. I’m an artist, performer and professional wrestler based in Los Angeles, California. When did you begin to crochet? As a teenager, I learned how to crochet from my mom, Takako Yamashiro. I never learned how to read patterns. It definitely wasn’t an immediate love, I would crochet a scarf here and there, butit’s nothing serious. Then one summer, years ago, I decided to try to make matching costumes for my best friend and me. They were neon and rainbow and very short, because I got too excited and wanted us to wear them before they were actually “done”. Once I figured out that crochet could be so much more than scarfs and baby blankets, the possibilities were endless. I have been consistently crocheting since then, making costumes, bikinis, soft sculpture, wall hangings, pillows, giant portraits based on the Cathy comics... 

    Tell us more about your Studio! Can you walk us through a typical day in the life?
    My studio is in my apartment, which really works for me. I love being able to cohabit with my work. This is the first time in my life I have lived alone and I thought that I was finally going to have a “grown-up” minimal, fancy , apartment. But it turns out I actually just want to live in a psychedelic TGIFridays/Pee-wee’s Playhouse with plants. My aesthetic is all about bright colors, humour and the queering of pop culture. So, being surrounded by my work and the beautiful work of my friends creates a pop culture of its own: it’s all around me and part of my daily life. On a typical day, I’ll wake up with the sunrise and eat breakfast off the amazing, ceramic functional art of Laura Stinger, Dani Wassel, or Amanda Joy. Then I might meditate and read a zine by Jade Phoenix Martinez or Paradise Khanmalek. With the artwork of Jeona Zoleta, Shauna Steinbach and my mom hanging on my walls, who wouldn’t feel inspired? 
    What's been inspiring you lately?
    I am first-generation Hapa, and as a child I used television as a tool to understand the world around me. To this day, I find a lot of inspiration from pop culture. I am also- so thankful to be a part of a community of creative and talented queer artists. Seeing shows at Leiminspace and Pieter Performance Space, or watching Amanda-Faye Jimenez and Melanie Griffin perform at Gina Young’s Sorority always swells my heart and motivates me to create 

    How has your style evolved to what it is today?
    Crochet is a time-consuming process, so usually when I am half-way into a project, I have already gotten an idea for the next piece. I try to challenge myself to do something new, whether it is a new technique or subject matter. Crochet is so versatile and I want to use this medium in new ways. With so much being produced by machine, “perfection” is no longer interesting to me. I used to strive for the ability and skill to be able to produce physically what I envisioned mentally. But now, the changes that occur in the translation from the imagination to material , feel exciting and human. I see what is lost or misinterpreted in translation as the interesting and unique part of the magic that is created when something is made by hand. 
    What's the most important thing to you when creating a piece of work? What do you hope for people to take away from it? 
    Centering a queer, non-white, non-male perspective is important to me. I hope viewers feel a familiarity, humorand the possibility to claim and re-imagine a world where the marginalized are seen, respected and prioritized. 

    Who are some other artists (in any medium) who you look up to?
    Being a part of Alison Mitchell and Deidre Logue’s Lesbian Feminist Haunted House was a life-changing honor, as was working on Peggy Noland’s team to create the Sonora Stage at Coachella for the past 2 years. And of course, Future Ladies of Wrestling ’s (F.L.O.W) Head Bitch in Charge JJ Stratford and all the wrestlers involved; Pearl C Hsiung, Tashi Condelee, Alicia McDaid, Machine Mclaughlin, Hyperbody, Christine Stormberg and Bruce Bundy. I have learned and continue to learn so much from all these women! 
    What are some current projects you’re working on? 
     My girlfriend Machine Mclaughlin and I collaborate under the moniker Museum of Woman. We will perform and show work in “Reading Room: The Feminist Art of Self-Help” a group exhibition curated by Jeanne Vaccaro and Stamatina Gregory at Root Division in San Francisco. As my professional wrestler persona, Candy Pain, I will be performing with F.L.O.W throughout the year. 

    Any advice for others who are looking to begin their own creative endeavor but are unsure how to start? What have been some of the biggest lessons you’ve learned?
    Become part of a community. My friends, colleagues and mentors provide the support, inspiration, wisdom and love that allows me to grow and create. We are living through difficult times and it is my community that allows me to feel powerful and like that there is a possibility for a radical change. I would also recommend Beth Pickens’ book Your Art Will Save Your Life; especially if you don’t feel like you have a community yet, this book is a great companion and guide. 
    Lastly, what’s a dream project/ collaboration for you? 
    I want to go on a world tour with F.L.O.W., to start a queer hotel/artist residency/retirement home with my friends, and to destroy the patriarchy, white supremacy and capitalism. 

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