2008‒2009 Artist: Soichi Watanabe

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A resident of Koshigaya City, Saitama, Japan, Soichi Watanabe was the 2008-09 OMSC artist in residence. Watanabe graduated in 1982 from the Ochanomizu Art School in Tokyo after having earned, a decade earlier, an economics degree from Tohoku Gakuin University in Sendai. He teaches at a private art school that he started in 1982. Following his 1982 graduation, Soichi founded a private art school where he and his wife work togetherto help others experience the joy of art.

Soichi was drawn to God as an undergraduate student during a home Bible study when he encountered Mark 8:35: “Whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me and for the gospel will save it.” Further study of the New Testament led him to realize that he was both “stubborn and self-centered.” He recalls that “the richness of the biblical world overwhelmed me and at the same time tortured me.”

Shortly thereafter he chose to submit his life to God at an evening worship sevice. “I really heard a voice telling me to accept the salvation of Jesus on the cross and to follow him,” remembers Soichi. From that point on he has been determined to serve God through his abilities. As a follower of Jesus, Soichi points to his faith as the foundation from which he works as an artist. In his art book Jesus Walking With Us (2004), he writes, “I realize that [my works] are my own humble responses to God’s calling in my life... The images are often given to me through the words of God at worship services on Sundays and during my daily devotion. I have the earnest hope that I will go on painting to praise the Lord.”

In retrospect I realize that [my works] are my own humble responses to God’s calling in my life. … The images are often given to me through the words of God, at worship services on Sundays, and during my daily devotions. I have the earnest hope that I will go on painting to praise the Lord.
— Soichi Watanabe

Soichi’s oil paintings have been displayed at numerous solo exhibitions, including “The Encounter and the Hope” at Meiji Gakuin University, Tokyo, in 2000; and “Prayer for Peace” at the Ein Karem Gallery, Tokyo, in 2006. In 1993 his art was part of the International Impact Art Festival at the Kyoto City Museum.

In 2009his work was exhibited at the Institute of Sacred Music, Yale University Divinity School, in 2009. He is a member of the Christian Art Association in Japan and the Asian Christian Art Association.

A color monograph of Soichi’s work entitled For the Least of These: The Art of Soichi Watanabe was published by OMSC in 2010, and is available online through OMSC bookstore.