Maki Tamura

Seattle, WA | by March 29, 2010

Maki Tamura was born in Tokyo, raised in Jakarta and now makes her home in Seat­tle. I have known Maki since we were under-​​graduates at the Uni­ver­sity of Wash­ing­ton in the early to mid-​​nineties. Maki went on to earn an MFA in paint­ing from Tyler School of Art, Tem­ple Uni­ver­sity in 1999. It has been amaz­ing to watch Maki’s work evolve over nearly two decades.

I recently vis­ited Maki’s cozy win­ter stu­dio in her home. We were joined by Maki’s beloved Pekingese Gizmo who snored quite hap­pily as we talked. In the cold months when the sun is rarely seen, Maki works on a draft­ing table, gen­er­at­ing dozens of del­i­cate water­color paint­ings, which become part of larger scale sculp­tural struc­tures. Maki’s warm weather stu­dio in her garage pro­vides nec­es­sary space for her giant, hang­ing lanterns, accor­dion style screens, wall sized clocks, dimen­sional medal­lions, and dan­gling “intri­cate clus­ters of pic­to­r­ial tablets.”

Maki brings an incred­i­ble level of dis­ci­pline, a keen eye, and a rich, hybrid approach to her sculp­tural water­color paint­ings. She freely culls images and color palettes from a wide range of source mate­r­ial, syn­the­siz­ing mul­ti­ple cul­tures and his­tor­i­cal peri­ods. Maki engages in “irrev­er­ent approaches to dis­play­ing pic­tures, meth­ods of pre­sen­ta­tion that are pre­cious and sub­ver­sive, tra­di­tional and con­tem­po­rary.” Her kalei­do­scopic work is unabashedly dec­o­ra­tive; this orna­men­tal aes­thetic involves a sly form of rebel­lion, equal­iz­ing imagery that is global in scope and encom­pass­ing the humor­ous, hal­lowed, haughty and hokey.

Grow­ing up in Indone­sia influ­ences Maki’s sen­si­bil­ity and prac­tice. She was impressed and imprinted by the “visual cacoph­ony” of street ven­dors’ touristy trin­kets, sacred votives in tem­ples, and col­or­ful movie posters all jux­ta­posed within “majes­tic,” Dutch Colo­nial archi­tec­ture. “Such visual cacoph­ony, con­trasted with a clas­si­cal sense of west­ern beauty, is the aes­thetic and con­cep­tual inspi­ra­tion for these sculp­tures.” Maki’s work sim­i­larly involves refined struc­tures fea­tur­ing sacred and pro­fane imagery, which evoke bes­tiaries, nurs­ery rhymes, high tea, Indone­sian tex­tiles, nat­ural his­tory muse­ums, “old mas­ters,” and more.

Maki is rep­re­sented by the James Har­ris Gallery in Seat­tle, WA where she will have a not-​​to-​​be– missed solo exhi­bi­tion in Novem­ber 2010.

Categorised in:


  • jeffry mitchell says:

    Spec­tac­u­lar, Spectacular !!!

  • Your work is amaz­ing. Yes, a visual cacophony.

  • Vera says:

    oh my good­ness!!! unbelievable!

  • Kristel Wolf says:

    Just found this — awe­some­ness!! And your show at the Har­ris Gallery — amaz­ing! I love the way you really re-​​created the space; paint­ing the walls and hang­ing fas­ci­nat­ing del­i­cate sculp­tures from the ceil­ing! All so beau­ti­ful and enchant­ing from every angle.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *