Bio and Statement


Gardiner C. Funo O'Kain is a sansei Japanese American artist and the descendant of survivors of Minidoka, Crystal City, Camp Lordsburg and Santa Fe. She spent many years living in Toronto, the Bay Area, Austin, and Chicago.

In 2004, Gardiner left a career in feature film making and television production to pursue an art education at The School of The Art Institute of Chicago (BFA, Emphasis in Interdisciplinary Studio and Art Education 2007). In 2013, she completed a Masters of Fine Arts in Studio Art and Media Arts at Emily Carr University of Art + Design in Vancouver. It is important to acknowledge here that none this would have been possible were it not for the education that Gardiner received in the art departments at San Francisco City College and Austin Community College.

Gardiner has taught in The Art Institute of Chicago's Student and Family Programs; in the Film and Video Department at Columbia College Chicago; and at New Trier Township High School in Winnetka, Illinois.

Artist Statement

I am trained in a variety of mediums including printmaking, textiles, animation and performance. I also draw from experience in theater, dance, pattern drafting and filmmaking.

My current work is strongly informed by themes of absence, distance, longing and time travel. Additionally, I investigate duality in racial identity and the power of objects, places and language to mediate identity formation.

Principal influences include Japanese American culture; Post-World War II American art; filmmakers Yasujiro Ozu and Kore Eda; writers Kenzaburo Oe; Susan Stewart, Junichiro Tanizaki, Gaston Bachelard, Matthew Goulish, and Dionne Brand; and visual artists Isamu Noguchi, Agnes Martin, Therese Hak Kyung Cha, and Lee Ufan.

Research interests include interrogating non-subjectivity in art; decolonizing art criticism; diaspora studies; phenomenology related to images, objects and their locations, to distance, longing, and time.