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Paul Komada

Monument in Memory: Abstract Alaskan Way

Paul Komada's Monument in Memory: Abstract Alaskan Way preemptively memorializes the soon to be demolished Alaskan Way Viaduct with image and sound.

Paul Komada, Red Whale, 2017. Digital photograph
  • June 1 - 29, 2017
  • Opening: Thursday, June 1, 6:00 — 8:00 pm

The viaduct, an elevated section of State Route 99, established instant character for urban Seattle and its waterfront when it opened to traffic in 1953. From the highway, drivers have a world-class view of Elliott Bay and, from the ground, pedestrians experience the structure’s physicality as well as the deafening drone of vehicles coursing through the two lanes above. The sensation of travelling the span has been deeply embedded in the consciousness of Seattleites.

Komada spent the last 18 months walking and driving the imposing concrete structure, developing a collection of photographs and field recordings. Employed as source material for his multimedia installation, the imagery and audio – layered and amplified – will envelop viewers as they navigate a soft sculptural interpretation of the viaduct. With chroma-key technology, Komada also inserts himself into the work, blurring the line between process and performance.

He states, “The exhibition is about Seattle’s optimism and relentless appetite for amassing future capital, while simultaneously hinting at the melancholic tug of unfulfilled promises. As I walk and drive the ‘monument,’ my mind races through the history of the city as far back as the Elliott Treaty of 1855. I find the viaduct fascinating – it is enormous and striking, yet, people tend to forget its presence. Our perception of its existence shifts depending on our manifold states of mind. It’s there, but not really…”

About the Artist

Paul Komada returned to the city where he was born, Seattle, from the city where he was raised, Yokohama, Japan. Today, he lives and works in Pioneer Square. He received his BFA from the University of Washington and MFA from the University of Pennsylvania.

Komada’s practice reveals the metaphoric space between painting as object and painting as action and explores the boundary between art and craft. He treats all materials and processes – painting, knitting, photography, video, and sound – as a palette for abstract art making.

His work has been exhibited in Seattle, Canada, the Netherlands and Japan, and is included in the collections of the University of Washington, the City of Seattle, and Rijnstate Kunstcollectie, Arnhem, Netherlands. Recent honors include a fellowship at Virginia Center for Creative Arts funded by the Columbus School for Girls Endowment, inclusion in the NW Biennial “Art Now” at Tacoma Art Museum, selection as a finalist for the Neddy Award, and nomination for the Louis Comfort Tiffany Foundation Grant. Komada also has a sizable following on Instagram (@paulkomada).