Every year since 2011, library assistant Noriko Suzuki—who recently began painting under the brush name “Rio Suzuki”—has submitted work to the annual Honolulu Japanese Chamber of Commerce Commitment to Excellence Exhibition. This year, not only was her work accepted for the first time, but she won an award. On Aug. 4 she received a call from the JCCC informing her of the news about her piece Current-I. “I had to wait until the opening reception on Aug. 8 to discover what the award was,” says Suzuki. “When I arrived at the opening reception, it had already started, and the presenter had just announced my name, ‘Rio Suzuki for the Award of Excellence, Best in Show.’ It was a surprising and thrilling moment.”

Suzuki received her MFA from Lesley University, College of Art and Design in Cambridge, Mass., last year and was immediately hired by the museum as a library assistant in the Robert Allerton Art Library.

“It’s difficult to make a living doing art,” says Suzuki. “But working at the museum is so advantageous for many reasons—I get to participate in events such as lectures and exhibitions, and meet artists and curators. I’m delighted to be part of the museum staff.”

As for her work, Suzuki explains that there is a lot of patience involved in her process. “In school I spent time trying to find my own aesthetic and style, and I finally got it around the time I finished in 2015,” she says. “My body of work, Current, uses paints diluted with a lot of water. I splash the diluted paints on the panels and let the water move on the plane until it dries. The work has its own nature, so I patiently wait until its beauty comes out on the surface. Current-I is the result of free flow, spontaneity, and it displays a frozen moment of the atmosphere, it exemplifies the idea of what I am practicing.”

Rio Suzuki, 'Current-I'

Rio Suzuki, ‘Current-I’

The 38th Annual HJCC Commitment to Excellence Exhibition ends Thursday. See it now before it’s too late!