|"Remember, this was before personal computers," he emphasizes. "Plus, I didn't watch too much TV, so I spent a lot of time outdoors."
Growing up in Honolulu, he had a favorable climate for his childhood climbing and poking about. While indoors--like during his schooldays--he would listen to his teachers, but doodle in his notebooks: "I used to draw a lot of spaceships in class."
Artistically inclined, young Gordon was not encouraged to pursue a career in the arts. He attended college and majored in a "more sensible" field: information and computer science.
|"I was reading Joseph Campbell and Barbara Sher, and one morning I woke up and decided to quit. There was not much planning," he recollects. "I was very unhappy, so I figured, 'Why prolong the torture?' I woke up at two o'clock in the morning and wrote a resignation letter. At dawn, I sent it out to the department."
His exodus from full-time academic employment occurred in spring 2002. Three months later, in the summer, he encountered a new path that would redirect his life. Having grown up following different twists and turns, Uyehara instinctively recognized this new direction as a course worth pursuing.
Even when he was working at the university, Uyehara had kept his artsy side alive by sketching and drawing. Now he was taking his talents a step further, and it was a challenge he was determined to master: "The most important thing is to develop a feel for it. You have to spend time with the material. I like the process of going from a clay-like material to having a metallic piece. I like shaping things with my hands."
|Through his hands-on experience and watching other artists with this medium, the neophyte witnessed his aspirations become realities. He had a gift for sculpting and his immersion in this field ushered in a wave of creativity.
"Metal clay is special to me because it fits the way I want to express myself. I enjoy creating with it. Since childhood, I've always had an interest in the natural world, and I have always found sea creatures fascinating. It so happens I am surrounded by the ocean," he muses. "I live on the edge of Honolulu, in a suburb-like residential area. Picture single-family homes on small lots. It is close to modern conveniences, without being in the heart of the city. I do not live on the beach, but it is about 15 minutes away."
Contemporary ocean life and dinosaurs that roamed the earth eons ago are fair game for his talents. As his skills have evolved, so has his recognizable style and themes. Uyehara's work is aesthetically Darwinian--maturing, changing, growing, and building upon one motif to the next. It is a merging of an artist's loving eye with a scientific, realistic mind-set. Many of his pieces look as if they have emerged from a botanist's or a zoologist's sketchbook. "The bulk of my work is nature themed. I just make what I feel like seeing. I try to do something that hasn't been overdone, and I try to practice good design principles as well."
|Uyehara has challenged himself to balance the many different sensibilities and requirements that are essential for an artist to thrive. He admits that it has not always been easy: "I also have fallen into that trap where many artists find the business side to be distasteful. Part of the problem, I think, is that there is that perception. It reinforces and perpetuates that crutch." He urges artists and "creative types" not to shy away from the dollars and cents, the business angle, of their professions. "Perhaps we should reframe the idea of being an artist to naturally include being business-minded and practical, without making it a big deal."
Talking about the concept of "left brain" versus "right brain," the to-the-point Uyehara declares, "Interestingly enough, real science does not support the right/left, creative/logical brain model. Creativity can be applied to any activity--not just in the creation of art. You can certainly be financially creative."
These days, Uyehara is caring for an aging parent, so his productivity has slowed down. His in-person teaching gigs have been put on hiatus, but he does have some online classes available. When he carves out the time, he returns to his desk and picks up his tools and begins to envision new life forms and births them. "I'm taking things as they come and learning to adjust. I make plans, but things happen. When I feel inspired, I have to work more then."
Learning to monitor the ebb and flow of his workdays with the time spent on his domestic responsibilities, Gordon Uyehara is still driven to create and to make his dreams a reality. It's just happening on a differently paced timetable than before.
"You're only here for a very short time," he concludes, "so be true to yourself."
How did you like this resource? Your feedback helps us provide resources that matter to you most.