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September 17, 2013
Seattle Times reviews Echo at Satsop
Seattle Times reviews Echo at Satsop
Artist Etsuko Ichikawa’s ‘Echo’ of quake, tsunami, fire, radiation

In drawings, installation and film, Seattle artist Etsuko Ichikawa channels the aftermath of the earthquake, tsunami and nuclear power-plant meltdown that hit her native Japan in 2011. The exhibit runs at Davidson Galleries through Sept. 28, 2013.


By Michael Upchurch
Seattle Times arts writer

Spare, spooky and, in its rigorous way, spectacular, Etsuko Ichikawa’s “Echo at Satsop” (on show at Davidson Galleries through Sept. 28) has a nightmare beauty to it.

Its drawings, wall sculptures, sound installation and short film were triggered, in part, by the earthquake and tsunami that hit Japan on March 11, 2011. Ichikawa, born in Tokyo and residing in Seattle since 1993, is especially concerned by the meltdowns at the Fukushima nuclear power plant.

“This incident,” she notes in her artist’s statement, “caused substantial radiation leakage that has had an immeasurable impact on people’s health and the environment, and will continue to do so for generations to come.”

Ichikawa found an “echo” of the Fukushima catastrophe in Washington state’s Satsop nuclear facility, which was abandoned in mid-construction in 1983. Satsop’s colossal Cooling Tower #3 provides the set for a short film, also titled “Echo at Satsop,” that’s part of the exhibit.

The tower, close to 500 feet tall, is a literal echo chamber as well as a thematic echo of the Fukushima plant, and Ichikawa’s film makes eerie use of it. Nearby is a sound installation composed of 115 hanging glass spheres, arranged in a towering spiral pattern (Ichikawa is a former Dale Chihuly studio assistant). The small spheres hover above an 8-foot-wide wood platform with speakers beneath it. Lie down on it, and you can feel a 73-minute sound loop making the wood vibrate.

The majority of the show consists of “aquagraphs”: drawings created with water and soot on hand-embossed paper. These intuitive abstractions build spontaneously on the way water stains and smoke spread across the scored paper surface. Their spiraling/radiating forms have something both liquid and incendiary about them. Their patterns seep, streak and zigzag, and it’s difficult to look at them without thinking of the inexorable way radioactive material spreads — whether at Fukushima or Hanford.

Several wall sculptures, all titled “Memory of Echoes,” blend “aquagraph” and “pyrograph” technique. Ichikawa’s “pyrographs” — until now her best-known work — are drawings created with dripping molten glass: her way, she says, of investigating “what lies between the ephemeral and the eternal. (You can see her making them in a video on her website: www.etsukoichikawa.com.)

Taken together, the works of “Echo at Satsop” shine a pale, ghostly light on the damage humankind has done its world. This is a powerful show.

Michael Upchurch: mupchurch@seattletimes.com

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News Archive
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February 11, 2017
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Working with Arts WA, Washington State Arts Commission.
February 10, 2017
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Glass Pyrograph commissioned
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June 16, 2016
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Grand Prize awarded by Dave Bown Projects
November 04, 2015
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Destined to Create: Artist Etsuko Ichikawa
September 06, 2015
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Crafted: Objects in Flux
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August 25, 2015 – January 10, 2016
August 25, 2015
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Crafted: Objects in Flux published by Museum of Fine Arts Boston
August 01, 2015
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Interview published on COLLECT & CONNECT
April 04, 2015
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Artist Presentation on HAKONIWA Project
Museum of Northwest Art, La Conner, WA
March 31, 2015
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Mesmerizing Molten Glass Paintings by Etsuko Ichikawa
March 22, 2015
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FORCES OF NATURE, Film Screening & Presentation
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November 01, 2014
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Solo Exhibit Review by Matthew Kangas on art ltd., November 2014 issue
April 17, 2014
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Performance at Chrysler Museum of Art
February 11, 2014
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Seattle Weekly reviews Echo at Satsop
December 08, 2013
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New Work: Aquagraph on panel
December 07, 2013
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New Work: Tsurezuregusa series on panel
October 04, 2013
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Echo at Satsop film is released!
October 02, 2013
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The Culture Trip interview
September 27, 2013
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Etsuko Ichikawa: Art Zone with Nancy Guppy
December 31, 2012
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Archived Interviews: 1996 - 2012
December 31, 2012
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Archived Publications: 1996 - 2012
December 31, 2012
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Archived Reviews: 1996 - 2013
November 21, 2012
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Art Rader Asia interview
November 14, 2012
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Exhibit Catalogue: Waterhouse & Dodd
April 01, 2009
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Review: Afterburn on GLASS
March 02, 2009
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Etsuko Ichikawa at BAM on Art Culture
September 01, 2008
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Plumbing the Subconscious
May 14, 2008
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Living Images: Etsuko Ichikawa’s Ephemeral Eternal
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