Thomas Matsuda

Artist Statement
A renowned sculptor in Japan, Koukei Eri, said that one can sense in old sculptures, “a mysterious strength that has the power to touch and penetrate our spirits.”

As a contemporary artist, it is my aspiration to evoke this spirit.

I began my formal studies as an artist at Pratt Institute and as a lithographic printer in New York. My work was abstract drawings, paintings, and prints, influenced by Eastern philosophy. My interests led me to accompany a group of Japanese Buddhist monks on a Peace pilgrimage that involved walking across America for six months.
I then spent six months in Arizona with the Dine (Navajo).

I traveled to Japan and lived there for twelve years. During that time I apprenticed under the sculptor Koukei Eri. Then, I moved to a very remote mountain village.
Here I lived for ten years carving sculpture in wood and stone. The wood for my sculptures was obtained from the mountain forests, the stones from riverbeds.

I carved over two hundred sculptures in Japan for various temples, shrines, villages, businesses, individual patrons, and exhibited in many major cities. Major commissions include traveling to America to carve a seven-ton marble Buddha for the Grafton Peace Pagoda in Grafton, NY. I left Japan in September 1995.

Returning to America, I am bringing a culmination of all of my experiences and ideas together in my work. I am constantly striving to realize a synthesis of East and West. Koukei Eri said, “In the West, sculpture, like most forms of art, is viewed as a medium of artistic self-expression. By fixing his name to his works, the artist seeks to manifest his individuality – as well as to seek eternal recognition. With Buddhist sculpture, however … what is important, is for the artist to devote himself wholeheartedly to his task in an attitude of benevolence. That’s why you will find no signature or seal on a Buddhist image.” In this way, I approach my own art and the work that I pursue.