Revelations To Revolutions, In Keith Murakata’s Sculptural Work.

Now at pun(c)tuation (705A East Pike St., Seattle, WA), are sculptural works by Keith Murakata. The series is heavil centered around comic book character Captain America, who, according to Wikipedia, first appeared in Marvel Comics’ 1940s predecessor, Timely Comics as an “… intentionally patriotic creation who was often depicted fighting the Axis powers of World War II.” As Murakata takes this classic American image and turns it on its heel, viewers are encouraged to think twice about the current state of the country.

Here are some clips from Murakata’s artist statment:

“Keith Murakata flips the eagle and burns the banner of the strangled stars of this hegemonic, struggling thing called America. Through media sources, cast metals, ceramics, and wood, Murakata creates altered figurative sculptures that reexamine the historical toll these icons symbolize (and enact) upon the American people’s psyche, and their surprising international reach. Each piece blends history with present realities, the factual with the spiritual, and deep, indigenous truths with contemporary compromises.”

“Captain America—concocted to rally military action during WWII—was originally a blue-eyed,
blond-haired soldier wrapped in an American flag. In this exhibit, the Captain, now in bronze, takes on
a haunting, spectral form. The afro-pick was spawned in the turbulent 60s, when American black nationalists and militants deployed black rage and black power while garnering titles such as “the most dangerous group in America”. In Raw Deal, Murakata uses the remnants of a demolished house near the Duwamish River and texts from the time of the 1855 Point Elliott Treaty to explore and expose the betrayal of the First Nations’ land and fishing rights.

These icons have grown far beyond the narrow scope of their intended utility to embody either a polar opposite or a canonized version of their original spirit. Murakata’s work carries us beyond the original and implicit assumptions of these images, allowing a communion with and an illumination of the spirits within.”

Written by
Vee Hua 華婷婷

Vee Hua 華婷婷 (they/them) is a writer, filmmaker, and organizer with semi-nomadic tendencies. Much of their work unifies their metaphysical interests with their belief that art can positively transform the self and society. They are the Editor-in-Chief of REDEFINE, Interim Managing Editor of South Seattle Emerald, and Co-Chair of the Seattle Arts Commission. They also previously served as the Executive Director of the interdisciplinary community hub, Northwest Film Forum, where they played a key role in making the space more welcoming and accessible for diverse audiences.

Vee has two narrative short films. Searching Skies (2017) touches on Syrian refugee resettlement in the United States; with it, they helped co-organize The Seventh Art Stand, a national film and civil rights discussion series against Islamophobia. Reckless Spirits (2022) is a metaphysical, multi-lingual POC buddy comedy for a bleak new era, in anticipation of a feature-length project.

Vee is passionate about cultural space, the environment, and finding ways to covertly and overtly disrupt oppressive structures. They also regularly share observational human stories through their storytelling newsletter, RAMBLIN’ WITH VEE!, and are pursuing a Master’s in Tribal Resource and Environmental Stewardship under the Native American Studies Department at the University of Minnesota.

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Written by Vee Hua 華婷婷
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