Joan Derryberry Art Gallery features sculpture artist Manami Ishimura 

COOKEVILLE – Center Stage presents sculpture artist Manami Ishimura in a mixed media sculpture exhibition in the Joan Derryberry Art Gallery on the campus of Tennessee Tech University through Thursday, Sept. 15. There will be a gallery talk and reception on Sept. 15 at 4:30 p.m. 

The installation entitled “En” consists of branches within acrylic boxes and is inspired by the Japanese flower arrangement, Ikebana and its aesthetics. Ikebana is originally from a ritual of the Japanese religion to dedicate plants to the gods. 

Monks picked seasonal plants, trimming them off and arranging in a vase carefully to emphasize the beauty of their form. They tried to invoke the mystic power of life in a vase as if they were trying to embrace both emptiness and substance of life, according to Ishimura. 

“I collect natural materials, trim, and make composition choices considering the sense of spacing in ikebana called ‘ma,’” Ishimura said. “This installation searches for the boundary between naturalness and artificiality, embracing and delineating the struggle of the division between the two.”

Ishimura was born in Tokyo, Japan. She received her Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in sculpture at Tama University in Japan and earned her Master of Fine Arts degree in sculpture and ceramics at Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi in 2018. She is currently an Assistant Professor of Art in Extended Sculpture at Kenyon College in Gambien, Ohio.

Her sculptures have been exhibited both nationally and internationally including at Biwako Binnale, Shiga, Japan, Gallery C at Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum, Tokyo, Japan; Masur Museum of Art in Monroe, Louisiana; Wichita Falls Museum of Art at Midwestern State University, Texas. 

Ishimura’s continued exploration of ways to celebrate universality of art across cultures had led her to have a solo exhibition in conjunction with the National Council for the Ceramic Arts conference in Cincinnati, Ohio in 2021.

She contributed a permanent public art piece as a Windgate Artist in Residence at Arkansas Tech University. Ishimura’s work was featured in a group exhibition and she presented an artist talk at the Interkeramos Korat Festival 2021 in Thailand.

Since coming to the United States, Ishimura’s works have developed to incorporate social and cultural elements. She believes an appreciation of the beautiful dynamism between self and others can work to address social and political conflicts.

​“My artwork depicts the ephemeral beauty of moments which generally go unseen. When I practiced meditation at a temple in Lamphun, Thailand, my conscious mind left my physical element,” Ishimura said. “In that moment, only breathing connected my body and my consciousness.”

Ishimura concluded, “My experience living in other countries has made me more aware of this kind of moment, and of the liminal states that exist between consciousness and body, between myself and others, and between inanimate elements and living organisms. All of this reflects the ephemeral life of beauty, as in that quiet but profound moment of breathing at the temple.”

Admission to Center Stage events is free, unless otherwise noted. The events are paid for by student fees and open to the public with priority seating given to students. Many guests provide additional educational opportunities for students through workshops or master classes during their residencies. Email or call Liz Kassera, center stage coordinator, for more information at or (931) 372-3637.

Artist exhibitions in the JDAG are located on the first floor of the Roaden University Center  at 1000 N. Dixie Ave. N., Cookeville. Gallery hours vary, visit for updated times.

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