dear Me project

dear Me is a project initiated in 2016 by non-profit organization Arts Initiative Tokyo (AIT), with three-years of funding support from 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.

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.

  • 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.
  • Photo by Yukiko Koshima
    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.
  • Photo by Annemarijn Vlinder
    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.
  • Taki Togashi 【dear Me management and production/cultural producer】
    Based on the study of theater design, Taki has a wide experience in project management across arts and education including Barbican Center (UK), ROCKET project (Research Center for Advanced Science and Technology, The University of Tokyo), MUZA Kawasaki Symphony hall, Japan Philharmonic Orchestra. She is interested in creating a process for learning with collaborators across a diverse range of cultural fields.
  • Photo by (日本語) Uzuki Saito
    (日本語) 和田 真文 【(日本語) dear Me 企画・制作/コーディネーター】
    (日本語) dear Meプロジェクトメンバー。ウェブマガジン編集などを経て、「さいたまトリエンナーレ2016」アシスタントディレクター、その他展覧会でマネジメントなどを担当。2019年〜2022年3月まで、品川区立障害児者総合支援施設「ぐるっぽ」にて、コミュニティ・アートマネージャーとしてワークショップや展覧会の企画・運営、広報。「なんだかよくわからない、けど、とてつもなくおもしろい」表現の数々に触れ、魅了される。認知症者とのダンスワークショップや勉強会を通じ身体コミュニケーションの可能性を探る<とつとつダンス>制作スタッフでもある。2022年からAITに在籍。

(日本語) これまでの主な協働団体

(日本語) ●助成・協賛|日本財団(2016-2018年)、アーツカウンシル東京(2016年)、オランダ王国大使館(2018年)、エーザイ株式会社(2019年)、資生堂カメリアファンド(2020年〜)、SBI新生銀行グループ(2021年〜)、キリン福祉財団(2021年)、ローランド株式会社(2021年〜)、文化庁(2022年〜)、バーバリー・ジャパン(2023年〜)

●これまでの協働団体(抜粋)|ミュージアム・オブ・マインド(オランダ)、アトリエ・エー、NPO法人インターナショナルフォスターケアアライアンス(IFCA)、社会福祉法人浦河べてるの家、社会福祉法人二葉保育園 二葉むさしが丘学園、社会福祉法人扶助者聖母会星美ホーム、星の子キッズ、NPO法人日向ぼっこ、認定NPO法人KIDSDOOR、一般社団法人レインボーフォスターケア、森美術館、フィフス・シーズン / ビューティフル・ディストレス(オランダ)、東京国立近代美術館、学校法人角川ドワンゴ学園 N高等学校・S高等学校 ほか