AUD Hosts Renowned Painter Juri Morioka

The Visual Communication Department at The American University in Dubai is hosting the first solo exhibition by the renowned New York based Japanese Painter Juri Morioka. The exhibition, entitled, “Listening to the Inner Voice”features the exhibition consists of 15 colorful abstract paintings on canvas, and 10 small mixed media works on handmade paper.

The exhibition is open to the public in the A Building Rotunda Gallery of the American University in Dubai until April 14th, 9-6 pm Saturday-Thursday, Fridays 2 – 6 pm.

The opening of the exhibition was marked by a lecture the artist delivered on Thursday, the 25th of March, 2009, in which she highlighted her latest portfolio of works of art. The lecture was attended by AUD faculty and Visual Communication students.

Julia Townsend, Assistant Professor of Visual Communication at AUD comments: “Juri Morioka’s gallery talk on March 25th was a treat for members and non-members of the AUD community”.

Raised in Tokyo, but living for over twenty years in Manhattan, Ms. Morioka began by explaining how her instinct to paint began as a child when she would often draw on the wall to the dismay of her family. Likewise, she has always been affected strongly by color. She also spoke about the influences of her environment: painting in New York versus Japan, the effect of 9/11, and her visits to the UAE over the past three years.

She spoke about her process, working mostly at night and on several pieces at a time, taking sometimes over a month to complete a large painting. She explained her use of gold leaf, which she uses sparingly, and compared it to the Japanese concept of less, is more.

From a practical standpoint, Ms. Morioka also discussed how connections made in one exhibition can lead to further exhibitions.

Most importantly, she explained that painting for her is a search for beauty, and working in the studio is when she feels most connected to the world.


“I believe Ms. Morioka’s exhibition, workshop, and gallery talk has brought a fresh approach to the painting students. Her intuitive process is quite different from typical assignments in the Visual Communication department, and her discipline and strong work ethic produce glowing, rich painting”, reflects Professor Townsend.

On the nature of the masterpieces she presented, Juri Morioka comments:

“I always approach the canvas directly, without any preceding sketches or studies. I paint in the manner of Zen, moving my brushes along with my mind's rhythm, relying solely on instinct and intuition. Outside of conscious thought, I search for harmony and form in the play of color and shapes, and a composition gradually emerges. Then, feeling my way with my brush, I enter the painting and wander through its spaces and along its paths with a deep sense of belonging. I welcome the viewer to join me on the same journey, with the same sense of belonging, sharing in the belief that everything has a life of its own."

On the importance of such interaction between a renowned artist and AUD students, Professor Townsend concludes:

“For all of the students, her visit has provided an inside look at the life of a fine artist. Our Fine Arts concentration has just begun this year, so for students to hear first hand from a dedicated, hard-working artist from New York City makes the career choice a reality”.


The exhibition was inaugurated last Tuesday, the 23rd of March, and runs until Tuesday, The 14th of April, 2009. During Morioka’s visit to AUD, two workshops with students were organized, during which she interacted with them on a one-on-one basis while attending to their keen queries on modern day art and providing them with her personal feedback on their artwork.