Don’t miss Minka’s June 9 popup featuring jewelry artist Snow Winters. Learn more about the artist below.
Also showing June 9 is local artist Jacqui Trent, with her rad collection of polymer clay pendants. They are colorful, sculptural widgets-to-wear that you’ve got to have for summer.
Top 10 Facts about Snow Winters, Innovative Artist in a Maker City (Meet her at Minka, June 9, 5-8 p.m.)
- Snow Winters is her actual given name. “Snow is the English translation of my Vietnamese name (which I can’t pronounce). I’ve asked my mom why she picked Snow, and she always just laughs a little and says she doesn’t know. I think she does, and one day she’ll spill the beans.”
- Winters’ favorite season is spring. “Although I think winter is pretty awesome, too.”
- Winters and her husband Stan recently moved to Tacoma from Oklahoma City. “We always wanted to live in the Pacific Northwest. When we finally had the opportunity to move anywhere in the U.S., we packed our bags and our dogs and headed west: We would figure out the rest when we got here. The scenery is amazing, and so is being close to the Sound. I love driving on Pacific Avenue over I-5. All of Tacoma is presented to you. The first few times I saw that view, I had tears in my eyes.”
- In her day job, Winters works at C4Labs in the Tacoma Dome district, where she handles custom design services and designs new products. “C4labs is a really inspiring environment; every day I get to see amazing innovation.”
- Winters holds a degree in earth science. “I love research, experimentation, and learning, which is why I’m always exploring new materials and techniques. That appealed to me in college and continues to drive me now. (My husband, who is a geologist, is a bit more excited about living in an earthquake zone than I am.)”
- Winters’ jewelry was recently modeled at a fashion show designed to highlight tech in fashion and show women the diverse potential in tech. “This was my first runway show, and to see so many of my creations being worn and enjoyed brought tears of joy. (It kind of seems I tear up a lot.)”
- Winters started working with acrylic only after moving to Tacoma. “I love acrylic because of its potential. It’s a material you see everywhere except in couture fashion. It can be cut, etched, heat formed, and comes in so many colors that the possibilities are endless.”
- When not at work or home, Winters is most likely to be seen at Trader Joe’s. “I love the quirky food they always have.”
- Cats or dogs? “Dogs – three, in fact.”
- What else do you want Minka followers to know? “Tacoma has been such a welcoming place for me as an artist. I’ve only been here a short time but have made so many connections. Tacoma is truly a maker city.”
Showing at Minka through June 30 is a show of photographs featuring work by S. Surface and Minka co-owner Lisa Kinoshita.
“The West” is a show that explores the political and aesthetic terrain of the West, which is familiar to S. Surface and Lisa Kinoshita. For more than a decade, the artists – both Japanese-Americans raised in Tacoma, with roots in the rural counties of the Pacific Northwest – have used conceptual documentary photography and mixed-media sculpture to stake out their heritage in the American West. Moments of simultaneous community and ruthlessness appear at rodeos, in prison and on the hunt. Surface exhibits photographs documenting a five-year run as a competitive bull rider on the East Coast amateur rodeo circuit. Kinoshita’s metalsmithing and leatherwork, including a work resulting from collaboration with prison inmates in Montana, highlight the material culture of the western frontier.
Surface is a Seattle-based curator, photographer, researcher, and lecturer on design, architecture and art. Surface recently served as director of the Seattle Design Festival, and on the board of the Seattle Arts Commission. A Northwest native, Surface earned an M. Arch from Yale School of Architecture, has been a teaching fellow in the Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies Department at Yale, and a visiting critic at University of Washington Department of Architecture.
Kinoshita is an artist, independent curator and freelance writer based in Tacoma. Her artwork has been shown at Tacoma Art Museum, Museum of Northwest Art, Vetri, Foss Waterway Seaport Museum, and other venues. Kinoshita’s jewelry design has been featured in the New York Times, ELLE, Best of Seattle Magazine, City Arts, and many other publications. This show was made possible by a GAP Grant the artist received from Artist Trust.
“The First Frontier” – S. Surface artist statement
The First Frontier is one of 12 rodeo circuits across the nation. Its territory comprises the original 13 East Coast colonies, once known as the American West. The name reminds us of the origins of rodeo, and is a fierce defense of country-western culture in the eastern blue states, a region little known for its rodeos. From 2010-2015, I competed and photographed as a bull rider on the First Frontier. When I rode, I handed my camera to other riders so they could photograph me.
Each ride exercises the grand archetypes: mastery over nature, nationalistic sentiment, taking and conceding power. Like other sports, rodeo provides a highly controlled and freely chosen stage set, albeit one with legitimate threats to life, upon which to confront dangers that lurk beyond athletic protocol. While cowboys are known to risk the delusion of rugged individualism, a rider is never truly alone with a bull. At least four people must help each rider set up, pull open the chute, and defend the current rider in the arena. At the local rodeos, competitors protect one another’s safety.
The First Frontier welcomed me. I defend rodeo to its outsiders far more often than I must explain my presence to rodeo enthusiasts, as the only Japanese-American queer on the circuit. It’s said that everyone who mounts a bull is insane. Many riders have either recently joined the military, or just returned from deployment. Fresh recruits compete to inoculate themselves against fear in advance of combat. Veterans ride because, after a war, what’s the fuss about getting on a bull? Still others aspired to the glamour and cash prizes of professional rodeo. With few exceptions, we are poor. Often, we are traumatized. Though I come from a rural Idaho military and farming family on one side and am the child of a Japanese-American WWII war bride on the other, combat and internment are just outside my own experience. Instead, I lived with the exhausting inanities of adolescent homelessness and financial destitution that followed well into adulthood, a history of sexual and physical assault, and the loss of a child. What’s so frightening about a bull, after all that?
The discipline of the sport requires steadiness through physical sensations of fear. The photography helps me understand my place in history, as an American who is also wary of America. I no longer avoid things solely because I fear them. I still fear every ride. This is unlikely to ever change.
“The Shape-Shifting West” – Lisa Kinoshita artist statement
The mythology of the West is built on powerful archetypes – narratives from history, literature, film and television that present an idealized image of America that replicates itself endlessly into the future. Fictional portrayals describe Americans not so much as who we are, as who we imagine ourselves to be. Like cast-bronze heroes, these muscular archetypes shine from their mnemonic pedestals, unperturbed by actual history, while present-day political, environmental and social problems release like flash floods from every direction.
The boundary-busting vision of the American West has inevitably changed over time. I grew up Japanese-American in the then-farming community of Fife, where many of my family’s neighbors were immigrants. Swiss dairy farmers, German flower growers and Japanese vegetable farmers all chose the rich, volcanic soil of the Puyallup Valley to ply their trade. Today, the farms are paved over and the neighborhoods have taken on a suburban uniformity. Further afield in the West and Midwest, the effects of accelerated change are more stark: ecological disruption caused by natural gas fracking; nitrogen runoff from agro-giants; opioid addiction in small towns; and displacement of indigenous people mirroring that of refugees. Yet somehow, in the throes of this remarkable transformation, the genesis myth of the West remains strangely and stubbornly alive.
I have collaborated with prison inmates in Montana sustaining the labor-intensive art of horsehair hitching, and photographed a master bow maker and hunter who harvests yew from the Cascade Range as raw material for his craft. These memorable encounters, and others, speak of an authenticity that shimmers and survives at the heart of the Western story. Yet, as a third-generation Asian-American female, the youngest of six kids whose parents underwent WWII internment, and whose grandparents were all dead by the time of my birth, I feel unmoored in this region of the American psyche that has always been home, yet not home.
Minka is located at 821 Pacific Ave. Open Thurs.-Fri. 12-5 p.m., Saturday 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., Sunday 12-5 p.m. For more information, visit minkatacoma.com.