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#februllage: Weeks 2 & 3

Throughout February, I participated in the #februllage art challenge on IG. It was a highlight for me and my creativity this, and I'm finally sharing my makings from the second half of the month...

#februllage 17: Weep // I’ve been reading the fantasy novel Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor. The city of Weep within its pages and the notion of imaginative dreamlands being a safe and beautiful place to rest away from nightmares inspired this piece. An ode to Sarai and her moths, and the meaningful way that weeping can bring relief and express things when there are no words. 🤍

For the shadows within rose,


and had to climb,

to the Land of Never-Gray

an environment for life

Life in the Clouds


tears wept with a kind of light

lighting up the dark edges


I will sleep a little while.

safe on the landscape

of wonder

. . .

#februllage 18: House // This one was actually something I created as a response to a #dreamscapings prompt, "Home in space as seen from after," but I never posted it. It's actually one of my favorite creations and is now framed in my studio, and when February 18 arrived, I felt ready to share it.

My response is diptych collage in two pieces, and a sort of portrait of the home I grew up in. An intermingled jumble of memory and internalized experiences that shaped parts of me in beautifully meaningful ways, and others in strained, unsure, and painful ways. It’s in the blend of both that I make sense of my first home, one that’s always ever been complicated.

‘Home’ can be a mixed bag of familiar-comforting-supportive with harsh-tumultuous-bleak, so there isn’t really an aspect of it that doesn’t come with a necessary footnote. But, context is everything when it comes to naming anything at all. History, choice, and what lies outside one's control isn’t quickly passed over, nor wholly used to excuse. Nuance is so necessary because it carries a more complete, yet layered, truth... even ones that seem to contradict themselves. 🤍

I once heard the idea that metaphor is where words and feelings meet. And this exploration holds quite a bit of both for me, making a way to express things that aren’t easily put to words. I love this medium so much for that very reason. ☺️

. . .

#februllage 19: Tied // February 19 was the #DayofRemembrance and 81st anniversary of Executive Order 9066, which incarcerated 120,000 people of Japanese descent. Several thousand more were displaced from their homes, relocating where incarceration wasn’t mandated.

In Feb. 1942, my Grandpa Kuni was 18. He’d been admitted to UCLA to study engineering when 9066 hit. Receiving a letter from UCLA informing him that he was no longer a student there (swipe to see) + War Relocation Authority orders, he fled CA with his dad + 6 of his 9 siblings. With a few days to vacate, they packed their lives into 3 cars & drove to NE to live in a tiny farmhouse where they farmed sugar beets. His oldest sister was incarcerated at Manzanar with her husband & kids. Two of his younger siblings were deterred in Japan (30 miles from Hiroshima, destroyed by atomic bomb), and were not reunited until 1948.

I return to Great Aunt Lily's diaries on the road with my grandpa as they fled, Great Uncle George's interview on his time in Manzanar, & pieces of stories I've committed to memory.

In recent years, I observed this day by illustrating my Yamamoto and Urata family mon (crest)- swipe left to see. With Day 19 of #februllage2023 being ‘tied’, I’m observing it with an exploration of generational trauma and how it trickles down. What happened to loved ones are knots tied in me, & I see it continue to weave through our family narrative, carrying sorrow, anger, & a determination to ensure this never happens to anyone else.

I grieve the loss of freedom & dignity; property, jobs, healthcare, education, & pets they were forced to leave behind. Language & culture sacrificed to survive in a country that sees a forever foreigner. Cultural appropriation & the picking and choosing of which parts of my culture people want, while leaving the rest, altering & profiting off it without considering how it's yet another form of taking… reflective of power dynamics that remain.

I’m moved by the strength of my beautiful Japanese American community living with these knots and trying to heal and live out love instead of hate. And I know it’s okay to both grieve resilience as well as celebrate it. 🤍

. . .

#februllage 20: Strong // I’ve been thinking about how true strength does no harm. It doesn’t dominate or overpower. It supports, uplifts, holds together, spares. It can resist and defy without becoming or succumbing to what it’s resisting against. It rises up as we wait or suffer or grieve. It‘s resilience and perseverance and waging peace instead of hate. Love and listening and compassion. 🤍

. . .

#februllage 22: Wings // After last week’s IG Live of moth-making, I couldn’t resist some more practice cutting moth wings. ☺️



the far side of

far from here.

When things feel overwhelming and my anxiety is flaring, I’m trying to practice visualization meditation. As someone with aphantasia, I have trouble conjuring visuals in my mind’s eye, but I’ve found I can experience this through the medium of collage for a similar impact. By creating the visuals, I’m able to see them piecing together, growing on the page, and it brings a sense of calm. 😌

I dwell on the details and imagine gently fluttering moths taking to the skies, rising up and up and up. Up above the big feelings and unending to-dos and must-fixes and uncertainties. All the ‘much’ begins to fade into a blur below so that it’s not longer all around me, and I can breathe and feel the wind and access a sense of clarity again. ☁️

Have you friends ever tried visualization meditation? 🤍

. . .

#februllage 23: Journey // I was drawn to abstract shapes and the way the way can sometimes feel like we’re going around and around and not getting anywhere. Only when looking back do we see the gradual progression of each step.

Start the first step of the journey

have patience

It’s going to be a while.


gradually, painstakingly

backwards and clockwise, too.


take heart and

make our way,

side by side, together


By the time we land

we will have learned

how and

understand why.

. . .

#februllage 25: Geometric // Thinking about this prompt, an inkling of an idea started to form of a flying houseboat made of shapes and angles, a little mailbox flag chimney, translucent wings and swirling smears of colors…

… though looking at it now, I wonder if I was drawn to these materials because of my recent reading of “Strange the Dreamer” and “Muse of Nightmares” and the mysterious blue mesarthium metal used to build the floating citadel in the city of Weep. 🤔😀 My friend @z.en asked me last night if my favorite media (books, music, etc.) finds its way into my art, and this just proves it so! Sometimes its intentional and sometimes, its quite subconscious- like this one!

A wish for today:

we could build

someplace beautiful to live

somewhere kind and enduring to inhabit

- and illuminatingly - different

on all sides

. . .

#februllage 26: Listen // I’ve been thinking of the stories that don’t get told because of injustice. The stories that aren’t reported on or downplayed because of prejudices in all its forms. The stories shut away in keepsake chests because they are a very part of us or because they still hurt.

Let’s tell

the stories

not found in books


songs that swept the world

dark and sparkling stories


hushed parts of history,


for a long time,

until at last


We remember them

We speak them.


They will

be written down

We bring them back







These stories are important and relevant. They hold lived experience and cultures and communities, lessons and losses and achievements and joy. Let’s listen and never forget. 🤍

. . .

#februllage 27: Sunflower // I just wanted to make something simple and cute.🌻 Watch me assemble this little sunflower friend on my IG Live Replay (last post)!

Shall we give it a name? Leave a comment with your most endearing name ideas! Maybe Nikkō (日光, name meaning ‘sunlight’ in Japanese)?☀️

. . .

#februllage 28: Future // It felt happy to keep it simple and enjoy exploring colors and shapes and a sense of motion and growing.

The future may be unknown, but


is part of what

adds dimension

to it all

I’ve so enjoyed exploring prompts throughout the month and ended up creating so many things I otherwise would never have dreamt up. And sneaking of the future, I’m going to return to my collage journal as often as I can, and have begun to dream of some new horizons for them to resurface… ✨

. . .

Thanks for all the encouragement this month as I made my way through the #februallage challenge for the first time! I ended up creating so many things I love with so many surprises along the way.

I always love to hear your thoughts on what you see in these explorations, if you feel like sharing!

♡ Kimberly Kuniko

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Words, Art + Photography by

© Kimberly Kuniko

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Welcome to the personal blog of of Kimberly Kuniko, a Nikkei American illustrator, collage artist, poet, and host of cozy, virtual guided creative retreats with a new theme each month.

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