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'Keiko Fukazawa' directed by Anabelle Vo honored by Eva Haller
by Abigail Richardson
from MY HERO Staff
The short film 'Keiko Fukazawa’ directed by Anabelle Vo has been nominated as an Eva Haller Women Transforming Media Honoree at the 19th MY HERO International Film Festival.
Activist Eva Haller sponsors the MY HERO International Film Festival's Eva Haller Women Transforming Media Award, which recognizes filmmakers doing the important work of telling women's stories. Said Eva: "Women need to be made visible in all their complexity, diversity and humanity - as leaders, protagonists, creators, scientists, and whatever else they please."
In this film, Fukazawa explains how she uses her art to address an issue that has greatly impacted the quality of life in America: gun violence. Growing up in Japan, she struggles to understand the lack of action against the rising number of gun deaths in the US. Her art looks at the USA’s fascination with guns as well as the human toll of this American phenomenon.
Keiko FukazawaKeiko FukazawaSays Fukazawa:
I believe art should define its era and reflect what we are living through, so my recent works have become more and more political and engage with what is happening in contemporary America, politically, socially and culturally. One such topic is America's glaring gun culture and the gun violence problem. According to the CDC, every day, more than 100 people are killed by gun violence including suicide… I just can’t understand why Americans have romanticized guns so much, especially because where I am from police offers don’t’ even carry guns in the streets of Tokyo.
I started to research the history of America’s gun culture in order to try to make sense of it and through an artist’s eye, I have created a series titled ‘Peacemaker’. My first response to addressing America’s gun violence and mass shooting problem. I hope to spark meaningful dialogue, empower people and affect a change and give us a way to recognize and own our connections so that we can collectively find solutions to these pressing issues that affect us all.
Keiko FukazawaAnnabelle VoAbout Keiko Fukazawa
Keiko Fukazawa was born in Japan and educated at the Musashino Art University in Tokyo. Fukazawa also studied at Otis College of Art and Design in Los Angeles where she taught ceramics for four years. She currently lives and has her studio in Pasadena, California, and has recently retired as an associate professor and head of the ceramic department at Pasadena City College.
Encouraged by her mother to pursue painting as a career, Fukazawa became discouraged by the cultural conservatism that made it particularly difficult for women painters and after discussions with her mother, she slowly moved to ceramics. While working as an apprentice at the ceramic studio in Shigaraki, she was again dismayed by the rigidly gendered practices. Intrigued by the California Clay Movement led by artists like Peter Voulkos, Fukazawa decided to come to California in 1984. Since then, Fukazawa has created work in multiple national and cultural contexts.
Fukazawa’s work has been widely exhibited at galleries and museums in both the US and International venues. Fukazawa’s art has also been widely awarded, including receiving the 2015 Artist in Residency Grant from the Asian Cultural Council in New York City and a 2016 C.O.L.A. Individual Artist’s Fellowship from the City of Los Angeles.
Keiko FukazawaWilliam Short PhotographyPeacemaker
Fukazawa’s series ‘Peacemaker' is sculpted from white porcelain and is a recreation of many of the handguns and rifles used in American mass shootings/gun violence from the past 20 years. Each weapon is covered them with the state flowers of where these shootings occurred, which are to remind us of life, instead of death.
Fukazawa’s ensuing project is an installation piece on display called ‘48 Hours’ in which one of her thought-provoking pieces, titled "American Trigger," starkly captures the allure and danger of firearms. In this piece, she juxtaposes the elegance of a woman's hand holding a gun with the stark reality of gun violence. Another piece, "Silent Echoes," pays tribute to the victims of gun violence with rows of handprints to each represent a life lost.
Fukazawa's work has been featured in exhibitions and galleries across the country, sparking conversations about gun violence and its impact on American society. She also actively engages with communities, hosting workshops and discussions to facilitate meaningful conversations around this issue.
Gun violence is a deeply troubling issue that has cast a dark shadow over American society for decades. Senseless massive deaths by firearms have skyrocketed in recent years, yet nothing has been done to systematically address this horrifying and pervasive issue. The heartbreaking stories of lives lost to gun violence and the ongoing debate over gun control have left many questioning the nation's response to this crisis and so Fukazawa should be applauded as she has made it her mission to shed light on this issue through her work.
MY HERO interviewed Annabelle Vo, the director of the short film and previous MY HERO employee:
Why did you choose to feature Keiko Fukazawa?
We (WoMen Against Gun Violence) are always looking for people who, in different ways, try to have an impact on gun violence. Keiko has a unique perspective and uses her art to inform the public about the enormity of the gun violence epidemic in our country. When you look out onto the installation, the enormity of the lives lost can take your breath away.
What kind of audience do you hope to reach?
Although originally created to highlight Keiko at a WoMen Against Gun Violence event where she was honored by the organization, the video is used to reach anyone who can be inspired to take action.
What research did you do?
We interviewed Keiko about her unique perspective and took a look at her body of work in order to help us see her more clearly as an artist and an activist.
What inspired you to become a filmmaker?
I've always been fascinated by images and I believe the power of film is that it can often reach across social and cultural barriers to bring people together.
What are your future plans?
I plan to continue working in film and video, and WAGV continues the good fight against gun violence in America.
Who is your hero?
My hero is everyone who has had the courage to speak out for themselves and others when they recognize injustice and suffering.
The MY HERO International Film Festival is an annual event dedicated to showcasing films of up to 10-minutes in length that celebrate the power of the human spirit. Categories include documentary, narrative, music video, experimental and animation. There are Special Awards, with cash prizes, for films with themes of Peace, Activism, Women Transforming Media, Relationships, Immersive Storytelling, Youth Reporters, and Sing for Hope Music Videos.
The beliefs, viewpoints and opinions expressed in this hero submission on the website are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the beliefs, viewpoints and opinions of The MY HERO Project and its staff.