New Zealand-based artist Emy Oikawa uses clay as if it were paint. She spreads it around with a palette knife and brush, repetitively filling up a shape on a whiteboard. The long duration of small repetitive actions required to make a single piece helps Oikawa practice mindfulness and have better mental resilience. 

They function as tools for self-therapy, helping her stay grounded while she dives deep into her thoughts. They allow her to hold space for them before eventually making peace with them and releasing them. 

The results are intricate pieces with plenty of details for her viewers to immerse themselves in. They give viewers time to contemplate and again to be with their thoughts, to observe where they take them without judgment, and to release whatever burdens them emotionally. This makes Oikawa’s clay art reflect the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal of Good Health And Well-Being.

The Pohutukawa Flower by Emy Oikawa. Image courtesy Emy Oikawa’s website.

Oikawa frequently shares her process in bite-sized videos on social media. In them, she clearly shares how intentional and meticulous she is with every single piece, investing up to 2-3 hours a day for them.

Detail of The Pohutukawa Flower by Emy Oikawa. Image courtesy Emy Oikawa’s website.

Oikawa likens her process to individual people’s mental strength. “Like clay in the hands of a sculptor, we have the power to mould and shape our lives into magnificent works of art through transformation,” shares Oikawa.

Kiwi Bird by Emy Oikawa. Image courtesy Emy Oikawa’s website.

The transformation she is talking about takes place in her viewers' minds. It is a mindful journey that her pieces trigger. It helps them observe their thoughts and use them to build themselves up instead of knocking them down.

Detail of Kiwi Bird by Emy Oikawa. Image courtesy Emy Oikawa’s website.

Emy Oikawa’s work shows how art can be a tool for self-therapy and personal mental transformations. Her meticulously crafted clay pieces become bridges between her inner world and the viewer’s, encouraging her audiences to share a journey for introspection and emotional release with her. 

Detail of Kiwi Bird (In Pink) by Emy Oikawa. Image courtesy Emy Oikawa’s website.

This happens through Oikawa’s daily hours-long dedication to her craft, which allows her to hone her own mental resilience while creating space to train her audience. Sharing her process on social media also allows her to inspire a large audience to embrace art as a form of self-therapy, likening their journey to shaping clay into art.

Find out more about Emy Oikawa’s clay art and other pieces by checking their Instagram account @ecloart.

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