Saya Woolfalk, a Japan-born, New York-based artist explores alternate realities with ongoing projects and bodies of work. With her sci-fi-influenced, fictional group of women, known as the Empathics, she looks at hybridity, race, sex, and scientific understanding. The Empathics are conveyed in vibrant colors and otherworldly costumes and backdrops, and the characters have the power to meld themselves with plants and can change their genetic make-up. She uses several means to relay these ideas, from video and installation to painting and sculpture.
In a statement, the artist has talked about conveying her message through all of these forms: “Visual media act as narrative technologies that shape perception, order symbolic language, and help inform the way we perceive the world. Drawing material from various realms of the visual—pop-culture, ritual, street-spectacle—I use art as a laboratory to catalogue and critique our socio-visual landscape.”
Each of her bodies of works and new approaches add another layer to the narrative of the Empathics. As someone who has spent time between the U.S., Brazil, and Japan, the artist says she’s enormously influenced by each. “My sketches are a notational system; from them, I make paintings that recombine texts, images, and objects,” Woolfalk says. “From the two-dimensional I move to the three-dimensional and create landscapes. Through performance and video I activate those landscapes and produce narrative.”