A pretty, elegant and cheery woman from Waterloo, Noriko is currently working on an artbook entitled Foundations which is a retrospective of her recent works of Japanese calligraphy. Noriko Maeda is a leading Japanese calligrapher, who breaks with the traditional rules. Perhaps that is because of her sensory experiences with her environment. As a 2018 Toronto exhibition and her book presenting 70 original pieces show, this master of contemporary Japanese calligraphy expresses herself through an interpretation of Japanese typography, abstraction and the use of varying shades of white, grey, black, and, at times colour.
Born in Nagoya, Japan in 1953, Noriko obtained a Bachelor’s degree in Japanese Literature from Kyoto University. Between 1975 and 1992, she worked as a copywriter and graphic designer at a Tokyo advertising firm. Having already developed her art in Japan, Canada was to become her new creative and teaching laboratory. Noriko is a lecturer at the University of Toronto and the University of Waterloo. Her work has been exhibited in Japan, Canada, the United States and the United Arab Emirates. She also offers workshops in Waterloo for both established and aspiring artists. These workshops are held in a space that would certainly inspire architecture students! Her residence,designed by a Japanese architect, is a mix of natural stone, wood, glass and metals. Always modest about her talents, only a few of her works adorn the walls. Surrounded by a forest of pines, maples and hundred year old oaks, the home provides daily inspiration for Noriko, who looks to the shapes, colours and textures of nature as her muse. Her portfolio of work is extensive, and her signature calligraphy can be found on major pictorial works, murals, architectural elements, light fixtures, as well as the labels on refined products. Her interpretation of Canadian landscapes was influenced by trips to British Columbia, Prince Edward Island, Quebec and the Northwest Territories. She finds inspiration in simple things: the movement of water, sand on a beach, snow, the play of light in the forest.
On a visit to Yellowknife where her daughter was doing a professional internship, Noriko had a startling and unique visual experience. Imagine the pattern of cracks that forms on a sheet of thick ice on Great Slave Lake in minus 30°C temperatures. An
extensive palette of blues and turquoises played out on the thick ice. Her appreciation of life in Canada is based on her relationships with people. They are warm, display an openness of spirit and possess an innate sense of fun. According to her, through the impressive cultural mosaic of their country, Canadians are open to the world, but they are also responsible for protecting the environment and surrounding nature.