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JUNE SEKIGUCHI THE PULSE OF WATER

contemporary international art 512 1st Avenue South | Seattle, WA 98104 206.839.0377 | www.artxchange.org


ABOUT ARTXCHANGE GALLERY ArtXchange Gallery is a contemporary intercultural art gallery that inspires cultural exploration, the expansion of global community and the exchange of ideas through art. We exhibit art from around the world that reflects the diversity of influences shaping the Seattle community and contemporary global culture.


The theme of water

has always featured prominently in June Sekiguchi’s work, representing the river’s power as a source of life and a conveyor of cultural exchange throughout human history. Inspired by her experiences floating down the Mekong River in Laos, Sekiguchi has created a sculptural river that fills the gallery. A bamboo footbridge allows audiences to step into Sekiguchi’s world, and alludes to the temporary bridges built by Lao villagers each year over the Mekong, only to be washed away again during the monsoon season. The Pulse of Water is a meditation on Sekiguchi’s personal history and the impermanence of the human world. By deconstructing and reconstructing her materials in new ways, Sekiguchi’s work explores metaphorical rather than literal interpretations of the source material. In her latest work, Sekiguchi shatters her signature scroll-cut shapes and then sutures them back together with wire to create larger sculptural works that drape and flow. The repetitious physical labor she puts into processing her materials honors her cornerstone themes of family, history and culture.


The Pulse of Water, Scroll-cut wood, acrylic, bamboo, video projection, and LED spheres, size variable.


Fourteen years ago, I traveled the Mekong River for the first time. Floating down the river in a long, narrow boat slows the pace of life - I could just BE. As I meditatively floated, the riverboat captain was vigilantly reading the river. There are not many rapids, but bubbling whirlpools in constant motion indicate there is something below the surface. Trees, rocks, and all kinds of human-made things have been swallowed by the river. I saw the Mekong as a metaphor for our human selves. One may detect hints on the surface, but underneath is where our stories are submerged. - June Sekiguchi, 2019


Floating World I, Scroll-cut wood, acrylic and gold leaf, 16 x 12 x 12 in.


Floating World III, Scroll-cut wood, acrylic and gold leaf, 15 x 13 x 13 in.


Floating World VI, Scroll-cut wood, acrylic and silver leaf, 11 x 6 x 6 in. Floating World X, Scroll-cut wood, acrylic and silver leaft 11 x 6 x 6 in.


Floating World V, Scroll-cut wood, acrylic and silver leaf, 12 x 7 x 7 in.


Floating World VIII, Scroll-cut wood and acrylic, 10 x 6 x 6 in.


Collapsed Geometry, Scroll-cut wood and acrylic, 36 x 12 x 12 in.


It is important to me to know a tool or material deeply - to not just mimic one form in another medium, but to process it both physically and conceptually into something new. I’ve experiemented with structurally changing wood from solid to malleable by fracturing flat sheets of wood into small pieces, then suturing them back together to make the material undulate and drape. - June Sekiguchi, 2019


L: Kite (Gold), Scroll-cut wood, acrylic and gold leaf, 49 x 22 in. R: Kite (Silver), Scroll-cut wood, acrylic and silver leaf, 49 x 22 in.


Shoji, Scroll-cut wood, lacquer and paper, 12 x 12 x 12 in.


Lao Lattice, Scroll-cut wood, acrylic and LED light, 12 x 12 x 12 in.


Mandala (Wild Ginger) II, Scroll-cut wood, acrylic and gold leaf, 8 x 11 x 1 in.


L: Mandala (Green Lotus) II, Scroll-cut wood, acrylic and gold leaf, 8 x 11 x 1 in. R: Mandala (Wild Ginger) II, Scroll-cut wood, acrylic and silver leaf, 8 x 11 x 1 in.


Blue Mandala, Scroll-cut wood, acrylic and silver leaf, 16 x 16 x 2 in.


Temple Bells, Scroll-cut wood, acrylic and silver leaf, 16 x 14 x 5 in.


Akha Headdress, Scroll-cut wood, acrylic and silver leaf, 17.5 x 10 x 8 in.


June Sekiguchi Transfers Cultural Memories from Her Past to Our Future By Mayumi Tsutakawa Artist June Sekiguchi’s strong curiosity for the study of global cultures comes back to Pioneer Square in her current exhibition at ArtXchange Gallery. From early roots in the college town of Fayetteville, Arkansas, to multiple travels to Southeast Asia, Sekiguchi marries strong design with reflection on the lives of local people. She spent her young years up to 1977 in Fayetteville, a mid-sized Southern town with a very small population of color. And at that, a miniscule population of Asians. Her father was a mathematician on the university faculty and her mother operated a thriving gift shop called The Silk Road for many years. Taking off for the West Coast, Sekiguchi settled at the University of California at Santa Barbara, gaining an undergraduate degree in studio art with work crossing from painting to experiments in papermaking. After settling in the Pacific Northwest, she found herself migrating to scroll-cut wood sheets based on patterns from Silk Road regions in flat layers. Then came larger, 3-D geometric forms based on combinations of these patterns. Over the years, Sekiguchi’s work has examined issues ranging from the immigrant experience, honoring loved ones, contemporizing global design history, as well as moving toward technical challenges of medium and scale in her work. The concept for her current installation at ArtXchange Gallery began when Sekiguchi was traveling in Laos on the Mekong River 14 years ago. One of the longest in the world, the river originates in the Tibetan Plateau, cutting through China, Myanmar, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia and finally Vietnam before it empties into the South China Sea. Sekiguchi uses the Mekong River as a metaphor for the life cycle of humans. On the river’s surface swirls form, while under the surface, various debris items are found. “It is like people who have secret thoughts hidden inside them,” she said.


Visiting Sekiguchi’s exhibition The Pulse of Water at ArtXchange Gallery is to enter a room of intricate sculptural shapes that cast dancing shadows and, at the same time, to discover an inviting wooden bridge crossing lively waves. The river’s waves are swirls and curved shapes cut from thin wood sheets, a technique that this artist has perfected. On the wall, the river swirls are carried further by a meditative projection of water movement in lights. Mixed with the swirling waves also are found large pastel LED-lit orbs, as if floating on the river. Sekiguchi urges visitors to walk over the bridge and to think about the important living monument of the Mekong River. The exhibition continues with suspended pattern-cut lanterns, light boxes, patterned kites, plus ornaments of traditional Southeast Asian shapes. The complex and detailed cut shapes are inspired by Lao traditional patterns, with added touches of Moorish designs. Some sculptures also are wall hung, such as large gilded kites, or, set upon pedestals, also created with décor touches. A particularly elegant feminine construction is found in the Akha Headdress, reminiscent of the Lao hill tribes’ elaborate festival gear. Visitors to The Pulse of Water gain the rare visual experience of being immersed in the lights, shadows and shapes based on the Lao cultures, here at home. ---------Mayumi Tsutakawa is an art writer and editor based in Seattle.


June Sekiguchi’s sculpture and installations have been exhibited and collected throughout the region, including Seattle Portable Works Collection, Wing Luke Asian Museum, Bainbridge Island Museum of Art, Bellevue Arts Museum and internationally in Laos, Morocco, and Sweden. Sekiguchi was awarded a 2015 Artist Trust Fellowship and 2007 GAP grant as well as five 4Culture project grants. Other awards include a sculpture scholarship from Pratt Fine Arts Center and artist-in-residencies to Luang Prabang (Laos), the James and Janie Washington Foundation, and Willapa Bay AiR.


512 1st Avenue S. Seattle, WA 98104 206.839.0377 www.artxchange.org Cora Edmonds GALLERY DIRECTOR Lauren Davis ASSISTANT DIRECTOR Summer Ventimiglia CLIENT AND GALLERY SPECIALIST Cover: details of The Pulse of Water © October 2019 No part of this publication may be reproduced without consent from ArtXchange Gallery and the artist. Photography by Lauren Davis on pages 33-38. Photography by Rozarii Lynch on pages 12-20, 23-32, 43. Photography by June Sekiguchi on page 40. Photography by Mark Woods on pages 6-9, 21-22, 45-46. Catalog design by Clarissa Gines

This project was funded in part by a 2016 Individual Project Grant from 4Culture.


contemporary international art 512 1st Avenue South | Seattle, WA 98104 206.839.0377 | www.artxchange.org

Profile for ArtXchange Gallery

June Sekiguchi | The Pulse of Water  

ArtXchange Gallery presents The Pulse of Water, a new solo exhibition by June Sekiguchi. Using intricate scroll-cut wood constructions, Seki...

June Sekiguchi | The Pulse of Water  

ArtXchange Gallery presents The Pulse of Water, a new solo exhibition by June Sekiguchi. Using intricate scroll-cut wood constructions, Seki...

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