Currently Hanging: Yukiyo Kawano's Beautiful Bombs
- AT SCCC The fading fabric of the bomb.
If Yukiyo Kawano had lived two generations earlier, she'd have been in Japan when Fat Man and Little Boy hit. Instead, she can only sew together the wisps of her inheritance.
The first thing you see is her actual-size version of the bomb they called Fat Man, dropped on Nagasaki in 1945. Hers is made out of swatches of threadbare silk from her grandmother's kimono. Hanging from the ceiling by a single braided wire, this soft bomb dangles over the atrium at Seattle Central Community College, delicate and menacing, light shooting through its translucent facets. Kawano sewed the fabric together using her own hair. How long can these fragile scraps of history and DNA hold out up there? I worry about this beautiful bomb. If it falls, it will disintegrate, not destroy. It embodies the anxiety of trying to preserve events you did not witness but need to remember. This kind of inheritance can so easily be lost.
- Courtesy of the artist
- A WOMAN'S BODY And a bomb.
Inside SCCC's M. Rosetta Hunter Gallery off the atrium, there's another hanging fabric bomb, and an obsessive series of sumi, watercolor, and gouache paintings on pieces of paper on the walls. The paintings include repeating imagery. In each, Kawano wears the slate-blue kimono she used to make the hanging bomb. Her wrapped body floats in a field of sketches and doodles of bomb design and cascading Japanese characters and streams of consciousness
in English. Her body looks stranded, and she has no head in any of the paintings. Her mind was poured out onto the rest of the page, it seems. There's an even denser project on a low table at the end of the gallery: an accordion-style book/journal Kawano drew and wrote based on six months she spent corresponding with survivors. Some of it has the feel of a mathematician's mad blackboard. At first, I wanted to delve into reading the black ink marks—the clear words and images. But I was overwhelmed by the volume of material, at which point I noticed a visual through-line across the pages that I hadn't seen before. It looks like a big moving shadow, like actual clouds are hovering above the paper in the gallery.