Kay Sekimachi was born in 1926 in San Francisco. Sekimachi was initially trained in artmaking while she and her family were held at an internment camp for Japanese-Americans in Topaz, Utah during World War II. While interned, Sekimachi studied various artistic disciplines including painting, origami, costume design, and interior design.
In 1946, Sekimachi studied at the California College of Art and Crafts in Oakland and, in her last year, began weaving on a loom. As a working artist, Sekimachi continued to use the loom to construct three-dimensional sculptural forms. In the 1970s, she began weaving nylon monofilament to create diaphanous hanging sculptures whose forms were inspired by Japanese cultural motifs. In her long career as an artist, Sekimachi has also crafted more utilitarian objects, such as loosely woven baskets and bowls, whose astonishing detail and fascinating design pushed at the traditional boundary between fine art and craft. Sekimachi has been credited as a pioneer in weaving, demonstrating the medium’s relevance as a method of artistic expression.
Sekimachi’s work is represented in the permanent collections of the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco; the Museum of Arts & Design, New York; the Oakland Museum of California; the Renwick Gallery, Smithsonian Institution; and many other museums and private collections. Her fiber work has been exhibited extensively in the United States, Europe, and Asia, including solo exhibitions at the Mingei International Museum, San Diego, California and at the Craft and Folk Art Museum, Los Angeles. The American Craft Museum in New York also mounted a traveling exhibition, “Marriage in Form: Kay Sekimachi & Bob Stocksdale” that went to multiple venues around the United States from 1993-1995. In 2002, she received the American Craft Council’s Gold Medal.