Drue is a contemporary artist based in Silicon Valley. Born in Tokyo and trained in Sumi-e. A graduate of Stanford University. Her artworks have integrated Japanese brush painting techniques with gunshots, hospital beds, alpine snow water and storm and heartbeat recordings. Recently she sent a painting into space for the first zero-gravity art exhibit at the International Space Station. She received the Martin Luther King, Jr. Research & Education Institute Award for her extensive community service.
Drue has been named a Cultural Leader by the World Economic Forum 2011 and 2012. She has presented solo sessions at the Annual Meeting of the World Economic Forum in Davos, and the Annual Meeting of the New Champions in Dalian, China and will have an exhibition at the 2012 Annual Meeting in Davos. She has also given talks at TEDx Tokyo, TEDx Silicon Valley and TEDxWomen. Her work has been featured on CNN, CBS, ABC, Stanford Magazine, San Francisco Chronicle, San Jose Mercury News, and many others.
Commissions include cover art for Wynton Marsalis' album A Fiddler's Tale (SONY/Columbia), original estate wine labels for Au Bon Climat, over 29 commemorative prints, and numerous high-profile projects for clients like Nissan, Cisco, SUN Microsystems, Mahindra Satyam, Nordstrom, Fenwick & West LLP, The Koret Foundation, The Boys & Girls Clubs of America, Stanford University and the Hoover Institution. In 2001, Drue established the endowed Rotary Foundation Drue Kataoka Arts Scholarship, which has been awarded to 10 students so far. She co-moderates a blog called ValleyZen with Bill Fenwick.
She was born in Tokyo and spent her early childhood there. Later, her family moved to Washington DC, Seattle and later Silicon Valley. From an early age she was trained in Sumi-e, a 2,000-year old form of Japanese brush and ink painting, acquiring her han (signature stamp) from Sensei M. Iseke at 17. Drue was trained as a classical flutist by Keith Underwood, and studied jazz with Kent Jordan and Wynton Marsalis. She attended high school at Sacred Heart Preparatory in Atherton, CA and received a Bachelor of Arts from Stanford University in Palo Alto, CA.
Drue's style of painting technique is based on extreme economy of brush strokes, distilling the painted objects to their essence. "Negative space" is leaving intentional blank, "incomplete" fields in a painting. Drue's art invites the viewer's imagination to collaborate with her. The viewer "completes" the painting every time it is experienced, by filling in all the blank spaces between the brush strokes. By doing that, the viewer also completes the emotional blank spaces intentionally left in the painting -- infusing it with one's current mental state, experiences, thoughts and feelings. Negative space very much creates an artistic dialogue between Drue and the viewer-- a dialogue that happens in the viewer's brain.
That's why every reading of one of Drue's paintings should be unique, unlike any other reading before or after it. In Drue's art, she strives to build room for dialogue at the very core of the art object and to turn the experience of viewing art into a creative collaboration that creates the painting, and repaints it, with every immersive viewing experience.
Drue is trained as a classical and jazz flutist. Furthermore, Drue has painted many jazz musicians, vocalists and dancers. But for her, jazz is not just a musical style, but also a way of thinking. Improvisation, flexibility and collaboration are ideas that are built deep into her artistic style. Drue's friend and artistic mentor, Jazz great Wynton Marsalis, talking about her as an artist and musician here.
A big running theme in Drue's art is bridges, intersections and connections. Art has the power, through engaging at both emotional and rational levels, to establish unusual connections and stimulate creativity and innovation. At the World Economic Forum 2011, Drue's solo session was entitled Building Bridges with Brush Strokes, and through a new collection of artworks illustrated her belief in the power of art to build social bridges. Drue's presentation at TEDxSiliconValley was entitled Art as a Social Bridge, and can be seen here.
A trend in some modern art has been to drop visual appeal as superficial. To achieve a high level of artistic expression, Drue believes that it is not necessary to sacrifice visual appeal in one's works. A painting can be emotionally engaging and philosophically moving, while also being visually appealing.