1 to 10. by airi katsuta


I often ask people to rate their day, how they're feeling, at that moment, from 1 to 10, 10 being the best. They always ponder for a minute or two, which feels like forever because I'm anxious to know. I think it's a fun game. I'm usually at a 9, since I tend to be a happy person in general. Maybe because I have a family that loves and supports me, friends who have my back even when I'm at my worst, jobs I enjoy, 2 beautiful cats that cuddle with me, a fish that's been living in my room for 3 years now (I love him even when he rebels against me at times), projects I've accomplished in my short life that I'm proud of, and plans that I'm excited about (like an exhibition coming up very soon! ). I try to be thankful for everyone around me for being in my life everyday, and even if I don't say it to you directly, just know that I am. 

So I walk out the door with a "9". I usually leave room for that "1" to make it a perfect "10" for an unexpected surprise like kindness or a compliment from a stranger, or as simple as a good cup of iced coffee when I'm feeling a little sleepy, or a good dream I might have that night. I'm pretty simple. Life's great, and I'm happy living everyday at a 9 hoping I'm lucky enough to get that bonus "1" to make it a "10".

I know sometimes I can be overly happy and it may annoy the crap out of some people, like "why is she bouncing off the walls? Man, she's kooky as hell." Don't worry, I know. But wouldn't you rather be around a positive energy rather than a Debbie Downer or a frown face? Even when I'm having a bad day, I try to leave it at the door. I admit I've had some dark periods of my life when I couldn't even smile or say anything nice, but I've decided I want to carry a positive image and project a good vibe.

I read somewhere that everything around you is showing you love. For example, your pen cap. It doesn't want to write on your shirt pocket and ruin it. Love. The cushion on your chair, it doesn't want your back or your bum to hurt so it's providing support. Love. The seatbelt in your car, don't want you flying out of the window. Love. Though all these things are merely objects, it's showing you love. Even if you think "no one" loves you, things around you will love you anyways. Yeah this sounds silly and I may sound a little loopy saying stuff like this, but wouldn't you rather be happy? Wouldn't you rather be smiling? Just know that something good will happen even if you're feeling down. Optimism isn't that far away from you if you look up (especially if you live in Arizona, the sky is beautiful!)

I know this isn't a post that I usually put on here, but I'm feeling extra positive today.

So I started today as a "9" like most days, and I got that extra "1.5" and finished the day with a "10.5".
Today was a good day, matter of fact, a great day. 


 What's your number?



Around the World, and I'm Back Again! by airi katsuta

So I'm back to Arizona, my home sweet home, after being away for 5 months on a global voyage with Peace Boat. I was working as a Japanese Web Reporter / Photographer to document the daily events that go on board and special reports for on location, write multiple reports everyday for general audiences who are interested in what life on board is like, for family members who are on land to know where their loved ones are at, and for passengers to reflect back on their voyage after their trip is over. I wrote close to 200 reports, and I cannot begin to tell you how difficult it was! Writing in Japanese was definitely a big challenge for me. I've acted the messenger role with Great East Japan Earthquake & Tsunami project where I wrote the survivor stories of the people in Ishinomaki, but it was always in English. It was my first time being away from home, and working in a Japanese setting, so language and culture was a lot to take in. The electronic dictionary (電子辞書) was my best friend.

I went in with the mindset that "I'm young, it's 0kay to make mistakes, it's a MUST to ask questions because I don't know everything, "  And let me tell ya, I made many mistakes, I asked so many questions, and realized there are kind people that have a lot to share and are willing to lend a hand. With my 105 days on board, I learned to appreciate people on a deeper level because they were there when I was in a time of need. There are more to each country than what tourism has to offer, especially with the cultural exchange tours that Peace Boat provides, it was great to interact with locals in their environment and have that experience. Here are some of the photos of the countries I went to that are on view on my website. See full albums on

Here is a little bit of a preview, but you can go to my website to see more!   And I was blessed with an opportunity to go on another voyage with Peace Boat as a web reporter again. So in November (which is in a couple more months!) I'll be in Japan and then off to explore the world again. In the meantime, I am making art in different mediums (photography, origami, india ink, watercolor, ceramics, and even henna!) I am working at the Phoenix Art Museum being a Gallery Attendant, Control Room Operator, Projectionist, and back at Method Art Gallery being an assistant to Davin Lavikka  and doing multiple duties. Hopefully I'll have an exhibition coming up there so I will keep you guys posted!

Update! by airi katsuta

Oh gosh, it's already JULY! Am I getting old or is time just flying soooo fast!? Anyways, I feel very bad that I haven't updated this blog in over 2 months, and a lot has happened so I wanted to give you an update.


I finally had my first SOLO show! WOOHOOOO! In April. Sorry it took so long to tell you all. The show was at Method Art Gallery, located in Old Town Scottsdale on Marshall Way. It was the premier of my project "Resilience". It was a great opening night with my friends and family there, and a bunch of people who strolled in during ArtWalk. I had a great time talking to everyone and conversing about my work. Thank you to everyone who stopped by!

And then right after that, I had my First Friday debut at the Grace Chapel Gallery in Downtown Phoenix. It was an event called "The Night of the Thousand Cranes" by Release The Fear. Release The Fear is a non-profit organization that helps kids in juvenile detention to focus their behavior into fine arts and music. They contacted me to be a part of the event to show my Thousand Cranes display and I said, why not? Everyone was so nice, Robert, Blair, and Bill are such wonderful people and they worked with me to find a perfect spot in the gallery. The building is actually connected to an abandoned church that burnt down in the 80's (I think), and it looked post-apocalyptic. Super awesome! The Night of the Thousand Cranes went well, with the talented Ken Koshio playing his Taiko Drums, Encolor teaching people how to write Kanji Calligraphy, people folding origami, and cosplay people performing. It was a great night filled with music, art, and laughter. I had an amazing experience with talking in front of a crowd and giving a little speech about my installation and the meaning of the Thousand Cranes. And Channel 5 stopped by and interview Robert in front of my cranes! Awesome exposure, right? :)

The cranes will be up in the Release the Fear headquarters, Grace Chapel, 302 W. Monroe, in the downtown Phoenix Arts District, until September.

I've had a few inquiries on my photographs recently so I'm very excited about what's coming next for me. I'm just keeping my fingers crossed and patiently working away until then. Don't stop, get it get it.


Next post is going to be about Clutch Jewelry, and the trip we took to Payson!

3-11-2011 by airi katsuta

Sorry for being MIA for a while. Everything was just crazy that I barely had time to even breathe. I know I should've written about this a while ago, and it may sound like a bunch of mumbling, but here it goes. March 11 has passed, and the one year anniversary of the Earthquake/Tsunami came. I felt strange inside because I didn't know if I should be happy or sad.

Happy: My whole outlook on life changed after I volunteered. I learned so much from that experience that I've been sharing my stories with others. This whole year I dedicated myself to Japan. I learned what it feels like to do something for others, and realize how it feels to be appreciated. I feel more connected to my roots now, and I'm very happy with where I am.

Sad: It took this disaster for me to realize everything. So many lives were lost, so many lives were destroyed. Was I selfish to "use" this experience to explore my identity? The disaster left so much damage that it's not even close to what it used to be and so much cleaning/rebuilding needs to be done.

So March 10 was a strange day with all this confusion in my head. But all that cloudiness went away the next day.

On March 11, there was a Annual Remembrance Event of the Tsunami with a screening of the Academy Award Nominated documentary, "Tsunami and the Cherry Blossom". I was fortunate enough to be asked to display my Thousand Cranes installation and share my photographs as well. I watched the documentary and I couldn't help but cry at first. I saw the destruction that the tsunami caused on screen and I took it personal. The first time I saw it on the news, I was amazed of how powerful Mother Nature was. But it was still someone else's problem. But after volunteering, after meeting the Ishinomaki locals, after moving bag after bag filled with the mud that was once at the bottom of the ocean... After all that, I was involved.

Though I was only there for 2 weeks, I put my all in it. It was hard work, but nothing compared to the people who's been there from the start. They're strong, and I'd be happy if I can be half as strong as them. While I volunteered, as a photographer, I wanted to take as many pictures as I could. But then again, this wasn't a vacation, or sight-seeing. It was to assist with the aid of the relief. I was so focused on doing the tasks I was handed, that I forgot to take pictures first half of the trip. And after seeing the destruction, it was so much to take in that it was hard for me to get anything in the way from my own eyes. It sounds crazy that I'm saying this, but I didn't want the lens to be in the way between me and Ishinomaki. But then, I wanted to bring back something to show my community of what was happening in Japan. I felt that it was my job to share it with the people who are in America. So towards the end, I started shooting.

Since I've been back to Arizona, I wondered what I could do here since I can't physically be there to help Ishinomaki. And the only thing I know how to do well is art. I learned how to cyanotype in my Alternative Processes class with my teacher, Christopher Colville, and he helped me get my ideas together for my cranes. So for his class, I started making cyanotypes with feathers on tracing paper to make the design, and then folded cranes obsessively. Everyday, every night, every moment that I was awake. At the time, I didn't know what it was for, but then eventually, I was deeply invested in it to give this as an offering for the people of Ishinomaki. I couldn't have done it alone, I had my mom, my boyfriend Rex, my friend Ashley to help me fold. My 2 cats, Whiskers and Bailey stayed up late nights with me as I folded. I folded 1000 cyanotyped cranes and made an installation. My wish was for Japan's good luck, good health, and recovery.

For the first time I had the opportunity to show it in my group BFA show, COOL. among my friends. And this exhibition lead me to Matsuri. And that lead me to the screening for the Tsunami & the Cherry Blossom.

I hope that Ishinomaki can feel the positive energy that I'm sending them. It may be little on a global scale, but I'm trying to spread the word out to everyone I know and everyone I can reach. All I want is good for Ishinomaki.

COOL: success! by airi katsuta

Thank you everyone for coming out to see our show, Cool.

The opening reception was a BIG SUCCESS! Gallery 100 was packed, and even our teacher said he's never seen it so filled up before. The food that we provided (pizza, hummus, baklava, nachos) were gone within the first hour, Danielle's super cool party favors (cone hats, COOL buttons, sequin masks) were a huge hit, and everyone had a great time!

I got great feedback from everyone who saw my 1,000 cranes, as well as my photographs. I met new people, built new connections, and learned what I could do to make it better.

Having this exhibition was a great experience. We, the Cool. people, had great teamwork. Everyone had their own unique style and it made our show enjoyable to everyone.

Thank you everyone for stopping by, and thank you to my team for making this experience SUPER COOL!



Website up!! Exhibition coming up! by airi katsuta

Hello, all! It's a little late but HAPPY NEW YEAR! There's a bunch of great stuff coming up this year and I'm thankful for having everyone in my life.

My new website is up and running. Be sure to check that out.

My group BFA exhibition is in less than 2 weeks! It's going to be cool and the show is called Cool. so if you're in Arizona, come by from January 24 to 27. My thousand paper cranes and my prints from Japan are going to be on display. And my group has some super cool stuff so be excited!!!

Life is good!!!!!

Reflections by airi katsuta

So the school year is about to end, and I am glad its almost summer! This semester was a "bleh" semester for me since it was all about just getting my electives done. I didn't have ANY photo studio classes which really took away my mojo. I know I should've been taking pictures regardless but I worked a lot and studied a lot. But that shouldn't be an excuse. It's sad to say that a writing class was my favorite class (since i'm a photo major) this semester, but hey Professor Keith Miller is AWESOME :)

This semester went by fast, all in all. Did a lot of writing, a lot of studying, a lot of working so I saved lots of money.

Next semester is my last year at ASU, so I hope I can make the best out of it. Oh, gosh I'm growing up! Don't know if I want to go out into the real world yet but career/job searching is next up on my to-do list. Hopefully going to Japan this summer will make it clear on what I want to do.

I'll make sure I keep this blog updated with lots of pictures.

Everyone, have a great summer!

Flip the Switch. Help out your Community. by airi katsuta

I've been talking about Japan and the earthquake & tsunami that happened on March 11, 2011 a lot on here. And I want to keep informing everyone that help is needed. I was planning on moving back to Japan next spring to find jobs and experience Japan to the fullest since I haven't LIVED there since I was 6. However, I got scared and back out of my plan after the earthquake happened. I was like, I don't want to live in a place where I have to be scared! But after weeks of thinking and seeing my sister volunteer and all, my mind changed 3 days ago. Flipped the switch, I suppose. I bought a round-trip plane ticket for Japan for a whole month and decided to go back to Japan this summer and help out. I can keep talking about it but now I want to do something about it. I'm very excited to volunteer for an organization and make a difference, even if it's small, so I can be a part of something that's larger than me.

And I'm 20 now and that's the legal age for everything in Japan. So I'm excited to experience Japan as an adult :)

Riho: Advocating for those who were affected by the earthquake by airi katsuta

My sister, Riho, is 2 years older than me and she lives in Japan because she's going to school over there. She's always been the crazy one, the unstable one, the funny one, the pretty one, overall, the amazing one. She does something extraordinary and blow peoples' minds. She's my best friend, she's my hero. A couple weeks ago, she told me that she wants to go help those who live in Ishinomaki, Miyagi prefecture because its been horribly destroyed by the earthquake/tsunami. At first, I thought, that's dangerous! but she informed me that she'll be in a safe area and she'll be helping with whole bunch of people called the Peace Boat Organization. After hearing that, I said to her, if your life is not at risk, you should do everything you can. It was hard on her that she couldn't do anything but donate when she was in Kanagawa. So she is taking action and she is at the location now, living out of a tent in the freezing weather, helping people with food and clothing.

I can't do much here in Arizona but to donate, but I can spread the word and let people know that this isn't over yet. Yes, there is a lot going on with America's government right now so CNN is covering that on the news. But people, please, do not forget. Japan is still in dire need of help and a simple donation could change so much.

These photos were taken by Riho.


Please and thank you,


Perfect Age by airi katsuta

I reminisce about my past a lot and I feel like I make them seem more beautiful than what they really were. But the perfect age that I wish I could relive is either 5 years old or 19 years old. At age 5, you slowly start to develop a personality with a favorite color or a favorite animal, something simple as that. My favorite color was green back then just because I was on the green team in kindergarten. My favorite animal was a pig and wanted to be a pig when I grew up (I have no idea why). My parents took my sister and I to many vacations like camping or a Disneyland trip or even Australia. I had no care in the world. I played dodgeball with the boys and climbed trees. I always took my socks off at school so I had a personalized pile of dirty socks. My mom always made me pack an extra set of clothes because I played in the mud and always managed to get myself dirty. Those were the days. Nothing to worry about, I don't even think I knew what "stress" meant. If I could be a 5 year old again, I'd totally do it.

Skip like a decade, I think I had a great year at 19/20 years old. I finally met people that I consider true friends. I finally realized what I wanted to be and why I do what I do. I met my photo people. I finally felt like I found a group of people that I can relate to and talk about photographs with. We'd go shoot together, stay overnight at school to print, stress and freak out together about the upcoming project. Though due dates and all-nighters definitely took the life outta me but I wouldn't change a thing about it. I learned a lot about photography itself and I met Michael Lundgren who made me cry almost everyday at the beginning of that year because I didn't understand why he didn't like my photos. I always questioned, why does he hate me and my work so much? But anyone who knows Mike, he doesn't bullshit. He never sugarcoats anything and he won't give a shit if you don't give a shit. I finally realized that he was just pushing all of us harder so we can become better photographers and see the world in a different way. I know I'm not his favorite student or someone that stood out in his class but he definitely changed how I see the world and where I stand in this universe through my photographs. I still can't talk photos like some people in this department but I'm starting to understand it and I'm still learning. I finally felt like I saw an improvement in myself that year of my life. If I could go through that rush again, I would definitely do it.

But I know that I will have those moments again. I'm only 20, I know I have a whole life to live. I feel like I'm a little scared of the real world after I graduate. I'm not sure what I want to do or who I want to be. I feel like I'm going through a quarter life crisis right now. But in time, I'll figure it out and I'll understand.

Til then.

Who am I? by airi katsuta

At Starbucks I go by Heidi, teachers can never pronounce my name, some people don't even bother to read my name, but my name is Airi. I go by Idy, like I.D. card. I was born in Japan and lived there until I was around 6. Moved to Arizona and I've been here ever since and haven't moved at all. I consider myself an Arizona native and I love it here, even in the summer time.

I started photography back in sophomore year of high school just so I didn't have to take orchestra or P.E. And I learned to love it more than anything. After 3 years, my grandpa gave me a Nikon D-80, and I've shot some cool stuff since then. I do a little bit of fashion by being the official photographer of Phoenix Fashion Week back in 2009-2010, working with a makeup artists and stylists, but my true love is in my fine art photos.

Though I take glam shots of models in their designer clothes, I love just walking around in the desert or a random neighborhood and finding an ordinary thing and making it extraordinary by photographing it. Like an offering to the world. Or something like it.

I'm still trying to figure it out and I think I have some time on my hands.