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The Suzy Greenberg MFA Exhibition 2022, Interview with Jocelyn Suzuka Figueroa

Updated: Dec 8, 2022

We only have a few weeks left for our annual Suzy Greenberg MFA Exhibition, which is up between now and March 26th, 2022. This year the exhibition is Juried by Assistant Curator of Contemporary Art and Coordinator of the Minnesota Exhibition Program at the Minneapolis Institute of Art, Nicole Soukup.

2022 marks our 20th year of exhibiting MFA candidates, and this the first year we have extended this opportunity to include both the MFA program at the Minneapolis College of Art and Design and the University of Minnesota.

Please enjoy this series of interviews with the selected artists for this exhibition! Today we're talking to artist, Jocelyn Suzuka Figueroa, who graduated in 2021 with an MFA from the Minneapolis College of Art and Design.

Rabbit in the Moon, installation detail, Jocelyn Suzuka Figueroa, 2020

Where do you hail from?

I was born in Kyoto, Japan and was raised in Stillwater, Minnesota. How do you find yourself and your work fitting into the Midwest? The region is a part of me just as much as Japan is, and I cannot deny its influence in the temperament of my work. It is quiet, reserved, and slow. It does not quickly give away its secrets. However, there is an inherent warmth—they are stuffed animals after all!

What kind of elements often show up in your work?

My work is inhabited by ghosts and creatures of play. Soft stuffed dolls are juxtaposed with figures that fade into the spaces they inhabit. I'm fascinated by how these seemingly disparate elements can be combined, and what kind of meaning their combination may derive for the viewer.

Crossing, detail image from the series Ghosts of the Negative, 2021, Jocelyn Suzuka Figueroa

How has the pandemic affected your studio practice? During the pandemic, it became even more important for me to root myself in a practice that was a part of my history. I found this in nami nui (wave stitch): a one-steady direction hand-stitch that was used by the women in my mother's family for generations. It was the foundational stitch for the only practice I could rely upon, regardless of whether I had access to studios or not. The methodical and repetitive beats of needle puncturing fabric created a repetitive rhythm that kept me anchored in a history older than myself during months of tumult.

Plush detail photo provided by Jocelyn Figueroa Suzuka

Jocelyn is a recent recipient of a Minnesota State Arts Board Grant, you can find out what Jocelyn plans to work on next on Instagram, @jomaccudo and see more of their work on their website,

The Suzy Greenberg MFA Exhibition runs from February 26th to March 26th, meet the artists at the opening reception of this show from 6-9pm on Saturday the 26th, and stop by the gallery during normal hours to see this work by Jocelyn and their talented cohort!


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