Asuka Hisa

For Asuka Hisa, being the education director of a museum means developing and organizing education programs that give her an opportunity to bring the ideas of creative people to the larger community. In addition to organizing programs, she is the creator of such groundbreaking programs as Wall Works, where acclaimed mid-career artists create large-scale public art projects with K-12 students; and Emerging Artists Family Workshops where one learns and makes projects with fascinating up-and-coming artists. In this interview Ms. Hisa shares her thoughts on work, space, and the good life.

“Describing my ideal live/work space is a delightful challenge. In a portable way, it will always be wherever and whenever I have the peace of mind to think and dream—I could be walking a neighborhood, riding a bike, sitting in a café, or lying in my bed.

My indispensable sidekick is a little notebook in which I scribble my notes and draw pictures. Everything that catches my fancy gets scribbled down eagerly without concern for good penmanship. I simply must write it down. This perfect pocket notebook is a portable studio for my mind to wander, brainstorm, keep tabs, and plan. This essential notebook activity comes from years of working full-time at a dynamic little museum and raising a family. When juggling deadlines, projects, and the world of loved ones (and their demands), I find personal refuge in my notebooks where, in constant-quick-small ways, I feel like I am acting on my creative impulses.

I love being at home, working at home, but I am too seldom at home. The children are now grown (16 and 18) and I am able to be an enthusiastic peripatetic in my city; a sucker for stimulation; a voracious consumer of local experiences. In a city as diverse as Los Angeles, I am invigorated, intellectually and creatively, by my urban hikes and I certainly consider them an extension of my live/work space. I finally set up a studio at home but I have yet to really use it. I am too accustomed to considering my studio to be everywhere. Let’s quote Virginia Woolf (author of A Room of One’s Own among other incredible works) “I thought how unpleasant it is to be locked out; and I thought how it is worse, perhaps, to be locked in”

I work at a contemporary art museum called the Santa Monica Museum of Art. Art that embraces diverse aesthetic, cultural, and ideological perspectives comes in a daily dose. Several times a day, my walk through exhibitions from the museum’s front door to my desk inspires and prompts ideas. I encourage people to visit museums on a regular basis. It works.

In my job as the museum’s education director, I try to get my office workspace and the department’s projects to expand through multi-faceted collaborations that go beyond the walls of the institution.

Wall Works is one of my programs that involve hundreds of K-12 students in the creation of public artwork in partnership with the museum, artists, and the community. The project requires a film shoot; studio visits with artists; coordination with schools; and a professional installation off-site. Most importantly, it gets youth to learn about art and artists in a highly participatory fashion. The projects have turned a rather colorless hallway into an inviting and lively passageway. Students are part of a bona fide public art exhibition viewed by hundreds of visitors.

A good life is created by good work, be it professional or personal. The ideal live/work space? Right here, there, and over there.”