Studies show that people are inclined to adopt canine companions that resemble themselves or family members, a psychological impulse that Misato Sano (previously) flips on its head. Rather than carve a pack of doggy doubles, the artist creates textured wooden sculptures of curly-haired poodles and acrobatic pugs imbued with different aspects of her own personality. Encompassing multiple breeds, expressions, and physical traits, each work is a self-portrait. She explains to Colossal:
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For me, using the form of dogs is the most appropriate, highest-resolution method to materialize what I think of my inner self. Materializing myself in various states is about having an honest, direct dialogue with myself. In facing myself, I would like to be passionate, free, and loving, like a dog. My works are also about myself looking at myself. In that sense, I might have been making an existence that is sometimes beside myself, a little distance in other times, watching over myself.
Sano is based in the Tohoku region of the Miyagi prefecture and spends her summers creating the lively creatures with fur chiseled in visible gouges. As the weather turns cold, she shifts her practice to embroidery and conveys the adorable faces in plush tufts of thread.
If you’re in Portland, you can see Sano’s carved characters as part of a group exhibition running August 14 to 29 at Gallery Nucleus. Otherwise, check out her Instagram for glimpses into her process and to see some of the real-life pups that inspire her works.