Ryman Arts Artists Create Artwork Inspired by Legendary Filmmaker Hayao Miyazaki

By Marilyn Nguyen (Ryman ’11), Development Coordinator

In anticipation of the 2019 Sklar Creative Visionary Award Celebration honoring world-renowned, Academy Award-winning animation creator and director, Hayao Miyazaki, Co-Founder of Studio Ghibli, 25 Ryman Arts student and alumni artists participated in a three-day workshop inspired by the artwork of Miyazaki’s iconic films.

Trast Howard, Program Manager of Japan House, leads students through the BAKERU: Transforming Spirits exhibition

On September 27, 2019, Ryman Arts students and alumni began the workshop by visiting Japan House Los Angeles to view their interactive exhibition, BAKERU: Transforming Spirits. BAKERU is a participatory exhibition that invites visitors to step into the supernatural world of Japanese folk traditions through a process of transformation (bakeru means “transform” in Japanese). Trast Howard led participants through the exhibition, discussing the themes of respect for nature and human connection with the natural world.

Ryman Arts artists participate in the interactive exhibition, BAKERU: Transforming Spirits

At the exhibition, students wore special masks that transformed them into projected characters as they participated in several festival scenes reimagined and created by WOW, a preeminent Japanese creative art and visual design studio. 

Ryman Arts artists work on their watercolor paintings at the studios of Otis College of Art and Design

Artwork by Sierra Chavez (Ryman ‘18)

On the second day, Ryman Arts artists continued the workshop at the studios of Otis College of Art and Design. Ryman Arts Master Teaching Artist, Michelle Mary Lee led the participants in a watercolor landscape demonstration, exploring the background paintings of Studio Ghibli’s animated films. Drawing upon what they learned at the exhibition and during Michelle’s presentation, each participant created an original watercolor painting.

Guest artist Yvonne Hsuan Ho shares her experience as a background artist working in animation

The participants also had the opportunity to learn about storyboarding in animation with guest artist Yvonne Hsuan Ho, a storyboard artist at Cartoon Network. She spoke with the artists about their artwork, providing constructive critiques from the lens of an animator.

Artwork by Katerina Coronado (Ryman ‘17)

Katya Leal (Ryman ’19) discusses her art work during a group critique session

During the third day, the students and alumni participated in group critiques to better refine their paintings. After the three-day workshop, each participant created their own unique landscapes inspired by the magical world of Hayao Miyazaki.

We are grateful to all the staff at Japan House Los Angeles, with special thanks to Program Manager, Trast Howard, and Sr. Corporate Development Manager, Hiroko Kusano. The workshop was planned and executed by Ryman Arts staff, Executive Director, Diane Brigham; Education Manager, Rebecca Tuynman; Site and Outreach Coordinator, Ana Garcia and Master Teaching Artist, Michelle Mary Lee. Lastly, this would not have been possible without our amazing Ryman Arts participants. These artworks will be for sale at the Sklar Creative Visionary Award Celebration on October 25, at Neuehouse, in Hollywood.

Join in the celebration! Buy your tickets here.


Jessica Bui (Ryman’19)
Marina Caro (Ryman ‘20)
Sierra Chavez (Ryman ’18)
Katerina Coronado (Ryman ‘17)
Andrew Davis (Ryman’19)
Amy Doyo (Ryman’17)
Brianna Falt (Ryman ’17)
Javier Gil (Ryman ‘16)
Marissa Hernandez (Ryman ’17)
Sabrina Jiang (Ryman ’19)
Tina Jiang (Ryman ’19)
Katya Leal (Ryman ’19)
Katelyn Lee (Ryman ‘20)
Alex Liao (Ryman ’20)
Christian Liao (Ryman’20)
Elise McMillen (Ryman ‘20)
Ami Nakamura (Ryman ‘18)
Sonya Nalapraya (Ryman’20)
Andy Ramos (Ryman ’19)
Bella Runcie (Ryman ‘18)
Amir Sharipov (Ryman ’19)
Han Thai (Ryman ’20)
Amy Wang (Ryman’20)
Kristiana Wong (Ryman’19)
Evan Young (Ryman’19)