Miwa Yanagi was born in Kobe, Japan in 1967 and comes from a conservative family. Her father owned his own business, had a stable marriage, and had beliefs of her having a stable job in the future. Miwa had always loved paintings and was always very interested in them, but it wasn’t until she met Katsushige Nakahashi, who opened up her eyes to a new way of life. Mr. Nakahashi was Miwa’s teacher and was the first person who had much of an influence on Miwa and her career. What impressed her about him was that he was her drawing teacher at her high school who created arts of his own. In an interview Miwa states that she “was astonished to see there was someone who was thinking about making pine needles all day, day and night…and living with joy thinking about how well he can create pine tree sculptures all day, day and night” (Yanagi) . She compared his life to hers and its difference attracted her. Mr. Nakahashi continued to help Miwa with her questions when she called him and after graduating from the University of Arts Miwa Yanagi created three different photographed series; Elevator Girls, My Grandmothers, and the Fairy Tales.
Miwa started her first series, Elevator Girls, while she was in the university of arts in 1993. Elevator girls are common to see in Japanese malls, they were hired solely on their looks and were a sort of decorative piece, they blended into their stunning surroundings. Miwa compared these girls to herself and other Japanese women who felt trapped in life, always doing the same routine every day. She had her models all have the same haircut and wear the same beautiful outfits just like the real life elevator girls and had them all close together in closed spaces with expressionless faces so as to “express the feeling of intoxication” (Yanagi).
Her second series of work, My Grandmothers, started in the year 2000. Miwa asked the young ladies from the Elevator series, who were in their twenties and early thirties how...