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Natalie Sakurai

Glass, Mixed Media, Painting


The Lightbulb Lab
Natalie’s Studio - online!
Sacramento, CA 95819

About Natalie Sakurai


Like everyone else, when the pandemic hit, I was focused on keeping my family safe, and for some strange reason, making sure we had enough toilet paper. For the first week, probably like you, I tried to figure out what this new normal would look like. I was used to being alone in my home and out in the studio most of the day. Now, I was sharing this space with my husband, our adult daughter, and teenage son. Meals would need to be planned and prepared. Space and time became limited. Family dinners and game nights were fun, and I loved having everyone around, but for me, working was a challenge. It wasn’t just the limited time and space. After working with some heavy subject matter pre-Covid, I didn’t want to think about serious content for awhile. It was all too much.

I read somewhere that learning something new can make you happy. There was a painting technique that I’d been wanting to learn, so I took this time as an opportunity to learn it. It took effort and patience, and a constant push to not think about content. At all. ‘Process, process, process’ was my new mantra. Did it make me happy? Well, it helped to settle my mind, to focus deeply at a time when I had trouble focusing. It helped keep the worries away, at least for awhile, so in that sense, yes, it made me happy. Making things makes me happy, and I was making things again. 

So, what happened? After about 6 or so paintings, each teaching me more about the subtleties of applying paint in thin layers, blurring images, and abstract mark-making, a pattern began to emerge. It started out simple enough - I was painting old photos at first. Then I found an old, poor quality home movie, and painted stills of people having fun at a pool party - with no social distancing! I started feeling more comfortable with this new way of painting, and at the same time, unconsciously started selecting images of people either jumping, diving, or being pushed off a diving board. Without really thinking about it, but I began painting the divers (or jumpers) without their surroundings. They are heading into the unknown, without any way to stop or control what happens next. Sound familiar? Yeah, me too. Turns out you can’t hide from the meaning in your work. 


Natalie Sakurai is best known for her kiln-formed glass and mixed media work that examines themes of isolation and connection. Whether it’s exploring the link between autism and social media, or the inherent biases through which we all view the world, her work reflects the complexity of social dynamics in the 21st century.

She holds a BA in art studio and a BA in interior design, as well as a teaching credential in visual art. Raised in New York, she currently works in Sacramento, where she lives with her husband, two children, and a giant kiln called Annealia. Featured in juried exhibitions throughout California, her work is currently represented by Sparrow Gallery in Sacramento.

Virtual Open Studio:

Saturday and Sunday, Sept. 19th & 20th

1:00pm - a tour of the studio, Q&A

2:00pm - check out new work, Q&A

3:00pm - demonstration, Q&A

Each segment will be short and sweet (between 10 and 20 mins.), and be downloaded on instagram, where it will be available for 24 hours. 

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Interested in my latest work? Schedule a 20 min. virtual studio visit so we can talk about it and see if it’s a fit for you.

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Services Offered

Takes Commissions

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