Wendy Maruyama
Furniture Maker and Woodworker
San Diego, CA
2020 USA Fellow

This award was generously supported by the Windgate Charitable Foundation.

Wendy Maruyama has been making innovative work for forty years. While Maruyama’s early work combined ideologies of feminism and traditional craft objects, her newer work moves beyond the boundaries of traditional studio craft and into the realm of social practice.

Since 1994, she has been creating works inspired by the memory of her childhood growing up as a Japanese American, her interpretation of her ethnic heritage, and her observations of the Japanese culture, looking in from the outside. Born in La Junta, Colorado, to second-generation Japanese American parents, she has made several pilgrimages to the land of her heritage, Japan. At times reverent of Japan’s craft history and advanced technology and appalled by its self-indulgent, materialistic, and almost faceless and patriarchal society, she vacillates between creating works that both emulate and satirize that culture.

A recent body of work, “Executive Order 9066,” addresses the forced evacuation and incarceration of Japanese Americans in 1942 after the bombing of Pearl Harbor. Maruyama’s maternal family was directly affected by the evacuation, but this chapter in her family history was heavily veiled. Because of this, she “…avoided any association with this connection: partially out of suppressed anger, partially out of just wanting to move forward.”

Maruyama recently retired from teaching at San Diego State University. In addition to SDSU, she has taught at the Appalachian Center for Crafts and the California College of Arts. She exhibited her work nationally for over four decades, with solo shows in New York City, San Francisco, Scottsdale, AZ, Indianapolis, Savannah, GA, and Easthampton, MA. She has exhibited internationally in Tokyo, Seoul, and London. Her work can also be found in permanent museum collections nationally and internationally.

She is a recipient of several prestigious awards, including the California Civil Liberties Public Education Grant, 2010; several National Endowment for the Arts Grants for Visual Artists; the Japan/US Fellowship; and a Fulbright Research Grant to work in the UK.

Maruyama works full time in her studio, which is located at Bread & Salt, an experimental center for the arts located in the Barrio in San Diego.

Portrait photo by David Harrison.
  • Artwork by Wendy Maruyama
    The Tag Project, 2012. Paper, ink, string, steel, dimensions variable. Groupings of tags representing all 120,000 Japanese Americans incarcerated in 1942 from ten different camp locations. From the Executive Order 9066 solo exhibition. Photo courtesy California Center for the Arts, Escondido.
  • Artwork by Wendy Maruyama
    A Question of Loyalty, 2011. Wood, ink, dimensions 8 × 45 × 6 inches. From the Executive Order 9066 solo exhibition. Photo courtesy Dean Powell.
  • Artwork by Wendy Maruyama
    Bell Shrine, 2015. Wood, bronze, ink, dimensions 65 × 14 × 11 inches. From the wildLIFE Project solo exhibition. Photo courtesy David Harrison.
  • Artwork by Wendy Maruyama
    Sudan, 2018. Foam, wood, plaster, burlap, dimensions 55 × 96 × 30 inches. Photo courtesy the artist.
  • Artwork by Wendy Maruyama
    16×16, 2019. Wood, paint, dimensions 16 × 16 × 2 inches. Studies for tambour door designs, in honor of Anni Albers. Photo By Ty Creighton.
Artwork by Wendy Maruyama Artwork by Wendy Maruyama Artwork by Wendy Maruyama Artwork by Wendy Maruyama Artwork by Wendy Maruyama