PA:ID Featured Artist: Lisa Kinoshita

30 May

Lisa Kinoshita at her Spaceworks installation, “CODA”. Photo: Nate Watters

By Hannah Franke, City of Tacoma Arts Intern

Born and raised in the Tacoma area, Lisa Kinoshita is one of the 23 participants in the Tacoma Arts Commission’s Public Art: In Depth (PA:ID) program, training professional Tacoma artists in how to transfer skills from their studio practice to the public art realm.  She moved from Seattle to Tacoma in 2003 and opened her own art gallery, Mineral, which she closed last year in order to focus time on pursuing her own art and freelance writing fulltime.  Lisa is a jewelry artist by training (her work has appeared in the New York Times, ELLE, Seattle Magazine and other publications), and gives credit to the PA:ID program for giving her the skills to bridge the gap between working on projects which use the minute scale of jewelry metalsmithing to large-scale public art pieces.  Thanks to Elizabeth Conner, teaching artist for the PA:ID program, Lisa has been able to hone newly acquired knowledge on topics ranging from proposal development to working with contractors.  Currently, Lisa is underway in developing a vibrant public art work created specifically for Metro Parks’ newly opened, family-centered South Tacoma Activity & Recreation (STAR) Center.

Q & A with Lisa Kinoshita

What interests you about public art?

I’m interested in public art because it encourages interaction and for people to look at their world in subtly different ways.

You are currently working on a proposal for a public art piece at the STAR Center.  What intrigued you about the location and community, and what do you wish for your art to accomplish there?

South Tacoma, where the STAR Center is, is very diverse; it has a natural dynamism and is a neighborhood in the midst of change. In addition to the recreation center there is a weekly farmers’ market, a teaching kitchen onsite, and two community garden plots in the works [all at STAR]. The planning for STAR reflects a respect for nature and restoration. The center is certified LEED Silver to meet certain environmental standards, and its fields and green space are meant to bring people together and to get them outdoors. I hope my art installation, constructed with plants and steel, will create a sense of wonder about nature as a dynamic, beautiful and changeable art medium, one that we need to respect.

As a community center, the site is inherently a place for family learning and discovery; do you plan to incorporate any interactive elements within your work?

I hope my project – which is still in the planning stages, and involves interaction between sculptures and living plants – will attract people interested in green technology, in growing food or simply enjoying all that this beautiful space has to offer.

Have you completed any projects recently?

Here is a public art work that I did this year for the City of Fife while taking PA:ID entitled “Valley Roundelay”:

“Valley Roundelay” by Lisa Kinoshita. Photo: Roger Schreiber.

Fife is another community in flux. Fife was traditionally an agricultural community, and many immigrant populations (particularly from Switzerland, Italy and Japan) came there and found the volcanic soil ideal for farming dairy cows, flowers and produce. This piece, “Valley Roundelay”, takes an iconic symbol – the barn – and recasts it into the future. This non-traditional storehouse throws an ambiguous light on Fife’s evolution as a city and commercial center, and is a container for ideas relating to sustenance, community, a rural robustness and the passing of seasons.

STAR Center:

On May 19, Metro Parks’ South Tacoma Activity & Recreation (STAR) Center officially opened its doors to the public.  The easy-access facility provides multiple areas for families to congregate, including a concert hall, fitness center, yoga/dance studio, teaching/catering kitchen, childwatch/rentable party room, indoor and outdoor play areas, administrative support spaces, and various multi-purpose rooms.  Designed by award-winning Miller-Hull Architects in Seattle, the main architectural structure is reminiscent of nesting boxes arrayed in an arc in which all activity spaces are organized along a lengthy lobby.

In addition to being family friendly architecturally, the community center also uses sustainable strategies to create an environmentally friendly space.  The building makes use of natural storm drainage, rain gardens, natural ventilation, ground source heat pumps, natural daylight, and materials that are recycled, renewable, and low-emitting.  Large detention ponds along the south wall of the building provide natural storm drainage as well as augment a tranquil nature path.

The current STAR Center is a part of the first phase of the larger plan to construct the South End Recreation Area (SERA).  In later phases additional amenities will be added such as a community lawn, ball fields, ropes course, and bike and walking paths.  The STAR Center is part of a 75-acre multi-use complex shared by the Boys & Girls Club and Gray Middle School, making it extremely accessible to families and community members in the surrounding area.

For more information visit:

Stay tuned for updates on Lisa’s progress! We’ll be keeping track of other PA:ID artists throughout the year:
Chandler O’Leary

One Response to “PA:ID Featured Artist: Lisa Kinoshita”


  1. PA:ID Featured Artist: Chandler O’Leary « Tacoma Arts - June 20, 2012

    […] Stay Tuned for updates on Chandler’s Project! We’ll be keeping track of other PA:ID artists throughout the year: Lisa Kinoshita […]

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