Luminous, inventive, and elegant, inspired by nature, by spirituality, by poetry – this is the work of Naoko Matsubara.
Born on the island of Shikoku in Japan's Inland Sea, Naoko Matsubara's father was the Shinto high priest at the Kenkun Shrine nestled in the mountains near Kyoto. Nature is held in high regard within Shintoism, and this became an enduring core of inspiration for Matsubara.
As a student at the Kyoto Academy of Fine Arts in the 1950s, she trained in the mingei (folk art) tradition and studied with the influential Munakata Shiko.
After receiving a Fulbright award in 1961, the young artist left Japan to travel extensively. She received an MFA in the School of Fine Arts at Carnegie Mellon in Pittsburgh and then studied for a year at the Royal College of Art. She met her husband David Waterhouse, a University of Toronto professor of East Asian studies, in the U.S. and followed him to Canada, where she has lived for the past 50 years.
Since 1960, she has had more than 75 solo exhibitions in the U.S., Canada, Japan, England, Ireland, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Holland, and Mexico. She remains a prolific and active artist to this day.
In a July 2021 interview, she said, "I like making something no one has ever done, and I like when people look at it and feel happy or invigorated or moved."