Project Background

Arts Initiative Tokyo [AIT] has pursued activities that consider the contemporary world and society through art expression, working thus far with numerous Japanese and international artists and curators who have rich ideas and powerful imaginations, and acute critical thinking in-particular. In 2001, AIT began a contemporary art education program called MAD=Making Art Different in which, together with students, art that is directly connected to our lives is explored not only from the perspective of art history, but also sociology, religion, welfare, and other disciplines. AIT also curated Museum of Together (held in 2017 at Spiral Hall, organized by The Nippon Foundation), an exhibition involving contemporary artists and outsider artists that provided the opportunity to take an inclusive approach toward art appreciation and undertake an Art Access Program.
It is while working on such activities that the AIT staff encountered, through their own voluntary endeavors, children in children’s homes, isolated spaces in hospitals, and children with roots in other countries, leading to ideas that would become the seed of the dear Me project, which connects children, art, and welfare.

The project name, dear Me is based on the idea of caring for oneself (‘Me’), but also derives from the expression meaning ‘Oh!’ or ‘Wow!’, uttered at times of surprise or discovery. It is unknown what art can do for children or the adults around them. However, dear Me is moving forward, aiming to create an environment in which children can encounter diverse thinking and express themselves independently, and giving priority to children’s spirit of inquiry and the expansion of their imaginations.
We hope to discover what awaits us, together with children, artists, and you.

dear Me project

dear Me is a collaborative project initiated in 2016 by non-profit organization Arts Initiative Tokyo (AIT) and The Nippon Foundation. It provides an open approach to learning through art and expression, and a platform where the unknown can be encountered with the goal of creating a society that encourages all children to have hopes and dreams. The project is directed towards children and young people in various living situations, including those in children’s homes, foster homes and those refusing to go to school, along with adult supporters. In addition to organizing workshops for art appreciation and workshops led by domestic and international artists, dear Me also holds lectures, symposiums and events where participants can learn together about the social issues and systems surrounding children, and gain ideas for the creation of a better society. Through various activities and dialogue focused on contemporary art in all its diverse forms, dear Me hopes to explore new possibilities for children, welfare and art.
Animation: Ryo Hirano and Children / Camera man: Takashi Orikasa, Ichiro Yokoyama / Film editor: Yasuyuki Fujii / Logo design: KIGI / Music: Yusuke Emoto
About Arts Initiative Tokyo (AIT)

AIT is a non-profit organization established in 2001 (incorporated in 2002) with the aim of exploring contemporary art and its relation to culture and society. Working together with individuals, corporations, foundations, and government agencies, AIT conveys the complexity and diversity, as well as the surprises and joys, of contemporary art, and creates a platform for discussion about its background and culture through various programs.

About the Logo dear Me Me dearme You

The dear Me logo was commissioned from KIGI, the company known for its gentle and playful designs as seen in D-BROS, PASS THE BATON, and 流Q (ruq). The ribbon motif carries the dual meaning of connecting and joining people together, as well as that of receiving a ‘gift.’ There are times when people can feel hardship or confinement in their immediate environment. But in looking at the situation in a positive way and expressing oneself freely, it is possible to transform even these circumstances into an advantage. Together with such convictions, the logo also expresses the wish that new discoveries can be made, and hidden abilities can blossom through activities organized by dear Me, leading those who participate to gain something = receive a “gift.”


Naming of dear Me (AIT)

The project name expresses the wish that children in various circumstances and those close to them will cherish their own thoughts and imaginations. It also carries the message that the ‘you’ within yourself and the ‘you’ in relationships with others will be discovered through various values and encounters made possible by art expression, and that, while treasuring such discoveries, “Me” will change and grow.

  • Naoko Horiuchi [dear Me director/AIT curator]
    Horiuchi is a dear Me project member with an interest in experimental learning and the creation of a space for new knowledge production through artists’ expression and ways of thinking that art makes possible. Since volunteering at a childcare facility, she has been exploring possibilities for the future of art education and as yet unknown expressive forms and circuits of creativity that are generated when children and artists collaborate. At AIT, she has been involved in the planning of the artist-in-residence program, exhibitions, corporate programs, and the MAD education program.
  • Rika Fujii [dear Me management and coordination/AIT project manager]
    Fujii is a dear Me project member currently conducting research into programs that encourage the proactive participation of children and young people who possess strong individuality. After her own experience of being with a family member who went through a long period of hospitalization, as well as participating in cultural activities for children and people with disabilities, she became interested in the possibilities of exploring art practice and expression in hospitals, institutions, and public spaces. At AIT, she is principally responsible for coordinating and planning exhibitions, events, and workshops. For the Go-Betweens: The World Seen Through Children/Children’s Caption Project (2014, organized by Mori Art Museum), the planning of which was supported by AIT, she was involved in the school program and workshop for children.
  • Miho Shimizu [dear Me publicity and management/Artist]
    Shimizu is a dear Me staff member who is involved in the running of the program while concurrently pursuing her own activities as an artist. She is interested in creating a space where experts and the general public can freely consider the relationship between individual and society. In 2017, she worked as coordinator for nl/minato, a learning program run by SHIBAURA HOUSE for which she conducted research into LGBT, gender and media in the Netherlands and Japan.
  • Akira Aoki [dear Me management and production/independent curator]
    After experiencing the planning and production of theatrical plays and children’s workshops at public theaters, Aoki became an independent curator in 2015. He has been exploring how artistic thinking and works of art can lead to the generation of creative spaces. He was a curatorial assistant for Socially Engaged Art (2017, 3331 Arts Chiyoda), an exhibition introducing art that focuses on social engagement. As a dear Me staff member, he is involved in the operation of the project, while also working on the planning of the AIT MAD education program.
  • dear Meの活動は、困難に立ち向かう状況にいたり、アートに触れる機会が少ない子どもたちに勇気を与えるものだと思います。アートを活用し、内に抱える考えや気持ちを表現することができ、また、子どもたちが安心してそうできる場づくりを行なっています。これは、アートそのものがオープンで、どのような表現でもあっても、優劣や評価の対象になるものではないからこそできることだと言えます。 ― エスター・フォセン
    (フィフス・シーズン ディレクター/ビューティフル・ディストレス・アート・マニフェステーションキュレーター)
  • みんなで一緒に子どもたちが夢や希望を描きやすい社会づくりを目指すプロジェクトです。わくわくしませんか?
    老若男女、知識の有無など関係無く、同じこの時代に生きている地球人として、子どもたちと同じ目線で伴走し、未来を考えている人たちがいます。今あなたは、枠付けられ、規範を押し付けられ、評価され、そんな社会で生き辛さを抱えているかもしれません。もし、そうだとしたら、ここに来て、アートや表現の心地よさやパワーやつながりを、一緒に感じてみませんか? 参加した後、きっと、心が少し軽くなる、温かくなる、そんな自分に気付くと思います。心地よい空気と笑顔が待っています! ― 鈴木 秀洋(日本大学危機管理学部准教授)