Several courses he took at Crossroads helped to shape his creativity and perspective.
To say that moving from Tokyo to Santa Monica was a dramatic change for Shingo Francis ’88 would be an understatement. Starting with his first summer course and continuing into his entry as a seventh-grader at Crossroads, he noticed right away how comfortably students expressed their thoughts and emotions.
“My peers would say what was on their mind directly and also express their emotions of joy, anger or sadness,” he remembers. “It was new and interesting to me to have the teachers encouraging the students to do the same and express their opinions about matters in and out of class. No training in Japan could have prepared me for this experience in my first several years at Crossroads, since the cultural environment expects an almost opposite attitude and disposition.”
Although Shingo acknowledges that he was “not much of a class student,” he knows and appreciates that several courses he took at Crossroads—such as photography, geometry and art history—helped to shape his creativity and perspective.
These days, Shingo is a full-time artist working in both Japan and Culver City. He primarily works with paints, but he also dabbles with art installation, video art and drawing. His work has been exhibited in the U.S. and around the world, including in Japan, South Korea, Spain, Switzerland and Germany.
When he isn’t creating his own artwork or spending time with his wife and 3-year-old son, he is likely curating exhibitions. He also loves surfing and taking trips to the desert to experience the unique combination of light and space—a combination that is reflected in his artwork.
Thinking back on his time at Crossroads, Shingo says he enjoyed developing strong friendships with his classmates. But perhaps what resonates with him the most is a life lesson that the School reinforced in him throughout his years in the Alley.
“One of the most important things that relates to my work as an artist is the foundation Crossroads laid for me to know and follow what interests me,” he says. “For better or for worse, that sense of what is important to you and what you want to know more about still drives me to be curious, challenging and passionate.”
To view a video by Stephen Leeds ’88 about Shingo’s 2019 exhibition in Crossroads’ Sam Francis Gallery, click here