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featured artists

Amiko Matsuo +
Brad Monsma

Seattle, WA

Amiko Matsuo is an artist and educator whose work focuses on transmigration, cultural exchange, and translation. Brad Monsma is a writer and educator tracing models of kinship and resilience and the author of "The Sespe Wild: Southern California’s Last Free River". His essays have appeared in High Country News, The Surfer’s Journal, Kyoto Journal, as well as various anthologies and academic journals. Together, they are co-translators of Art Place Japan (Princeton Architectural Press, 2015), a book by the founder of the Echigo-Tsumari Art Triennale, focused on community and environmental resilience.

featured artwork
Zuihitsu installation view

Installation view of "Zuihitsu," temporary public art project, Seattle, WA, 2023

Zuihitsu detail

detail view of "Zuihitsu," temporary public art project, Seattle, WA, 2023

Bat Cone Burn

"Bat Cone Burn," pyrometric project final form: clay, terra sigillata, underglazes, 2014

Pyrometric Cone

"Bat Cone Burn" pyrometric project ritual firing

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"Pyrometric Whirl," Ink, ash, medium, Phos-Chek flame retardant on paper, 84in x 40in, 2017


"Pyrometric Landscape," ash, medium, Phos-Chek flame retardant on paper; 84in x 40in, 2017

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"Pyrometric Landscape" side view

responding to Fuel Loading

Our Pyrometric project, a series of installations using ceramics, ash, and Phos-chek flame retardant, explores place, identity and materiality in fire-prone landscapes. We began the project in 2010 with site-specific clay bodies and glazes as a way to give materials voice in our collaborative research and creation. We limned historical and active maps of vegetative fuel loads in California’s fire-prone landscapes of forest and chaparral. With local firefighters we devised a ritual brush firing where the ceramic cones revealed the thermal shocks to objects and to emotions: the cones helped us see both flame and our responses more clearly. In 2016, the Pyrometric project expanded to include red Phos-chek, wound-like marks on paper. These expressed the ironies of fire suppression rhetoric while also suggesting the rage of a combustible and intolerant political landscape. The whole earth is fuel-loaded; there is nowhere apart and smoke drifts easily across borders hardened against people. 

Now that we are residents of Seattle, our work with fire, materiality and climate continues to be relevant. Amiko’s most recent installation offers a cooling space for reflection on climate, migrations, and community. Zuihitsu: Memories and Stories of Migration, under the International Pavilion at the Seattle Center, gathers over 200 fuurin ceramic bells threaded with stories of journeys and connections between students, family, and friends. As these stories catch the wind, the chimes ring with cooling sounds, calling us together to contemplate the changes to come.

more from their perspective

Resting at Sourdough Gap, enjoying some of the last clear air for weeks, southern Cascades burn scars in the distance.

Inspiring Landscape: A hibaku persimmon sapling, grown from a seed from a tree that survived the Hiroshima blast.

Fuurin drying underneath the sweetpeas and garlic.

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