March 31, 2017

Campus Confronts ‘Fobias’ through Consultations with Artist Shinpei Takeda

By Lauren J. Mapp

International artist Shinpei Takeda is an artist in residence at San Diego Mesa College this month as he works on his installation and performing art piece ‘Fobia’ in the Art Gallery, located in D-101.

International artist Shinpei Takeda is an artist in residence at San Diego Mesa College this month as he works on his installation and performing art piece ‘Fobia’ in the Art Gallery, located in D-101.


A reception for the participatory art installation will take place Thursday, April 6 from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m., with an artist lecture at 6:30 p.m. Following the reception, the installation will remain in the Art Gallery until April 13.


“It is such a great opportunity to expose our student body and the community at large to artwork in process,” said Alessandra Moctezuma, Art Gallery Director at Mesa College. “These participatory projects allow a level of engagement that is unparalleled, literally bringing the audience into the artwork, and allowing them the opportunity to shape the direction of the work. Takeda is also a phenomenal artist to be working with, as he has a long trajectory in San Diego and around the world producing work of impact. We are honored to have him here.”


On March 16, Fobia opened as an empty gallery where Takeda started by welcoming the community to the creation of his exhibit. He explained the concept of his installation to the attendees and invited them to come speak to him the following week in private meetings in the gallery.


During the week of March 20, Takeda hosted consultations in his handwoven tent in the gallery, made by wrapping a metal frame with Oaxacan wool. Students who signed up for consultations sat in the Fobia tent office and discussed their fears, which Takeda will later use to create hand carved, wooden sculptures to be on display for the remainder on the exhibit.


“Fear is something that is deeply ingrained in all of us, and perhaps it’s also collectively ingrained in society,” Takeda said. “Often irrational, sometimes even biological, our phobias are deeply rooted in our history and memory. We don’t need to talk about it every day, but I think we do need to attempt to talk about it sometimes…We do everything we can to avoid these things and we don’t know if those fears are being taken advantage of.”


Believing that it is important to have a safe space to talk about the fears that one might have, Takeda chose Mesa College’s Art Gallery because he said that college campuses have a tendency to be safe locations. In addition to the safety of campus, Takeda hopes that being surrounded by the blank, white walls of the gallery and stepping into the Fobia office made from white wool will give an additional sense of safety to the participants so that they can feel comfortable opening up.


“This is a very important project to me because right now, I think we are not communicating enough – part of that is because there is no ‘safe space,’” he said. “I’m no psychologist – I am not here to prescribe drugs or prescribe a solution to anything, but I am just trying to create a safe space for us to communicate and then be attentive to our different types of phobias.”


Born in Osaka, Japan, Takeda now resides in Tijuana, Mexico and Düsseldorf, Germany. When asked about how his experience as an international traveler affects him as an artist, he said that he has a different personality depending on where he is.


“Traveling makes me aware that there is more than one way of looking at things,” Takeda said. “I’m not too attached to one place – I’m free to change and I speak multiple languages, so I have, in a way, different personalities. I try to explore different assets, different facets of myself.”


Mesa’s art gallery is open Mondays and Tuesdays from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Wednesdays and Thursdays from 1 p.m. to 8 p.m. For more information about the art gallery, contact Alessandra Moctezuma via email at  or via phone at (619) 388-2231.

Tags: Art Exhibit, art gallery, Shinpei Takeda