What motivates me and why I keep creating, to paint or make things, even if my efforts get no attention is because it's FUN. The bottom line is that it's FUN to create things. It's utterly exciting to think that a mere idea is transformed into actual being. It always has been that way.
Nature is my subject matter. I didn't consciously choose it but as I spend more time on the trail or in the woods it takes me into an another world. It's like building a relationship with that place and making some personal connections. When I see a work of art I can relate to, it doesn't require an explanation, there's an immediate connection. The first time I saw one of the original sunflower paintings done by Van Gogh was one of those moments. They take me to a place, to another world an ideal world I'd like to be in and never want to leave. I get same sensation with the films and music I love: they take me to imaginary landscapes.
When I’m in the wilderness or on a trail, I gaze at the details of its elements. I get mesmerized by the intricacy and wonder of how leaves or rocks are formed. The idea of the theme, ISLANDS, stems from those details. They are an amplification of the details found in nature. The textures, lines, and patterns we find in nature are magnified, caricatured, and arranged in their visual uniqueness.
I wanted to continue to create highly abstract images to be open for various interpretations. These are a visual play on the nature found in the islands. They are like miniature playgrounds built in a make-believe world.
Yukio Kevin Iraha
I have things in my head that are not like what anyone has taught me... shapes and ideas so near to me... so natural to my way of being and thinking that it hasn't occurred to me to put them down... -Georgia O'Keefe
The artist has only to remain true to his dream and it will possess his work in such a manner that it will resemble the work of no other man. -Albert Pinkham Ryder
Trip to Okinawa last year brought so many unexpected and surprising perspectives. I had not been there for more than thirty years, it was quite an eye-opening event. First, the humidity was unbearable. Living in much cooler climate, i.e. Washington state, it felt like sauna and made breathing taxing. Though once I’d gotten used to it, its thalassotherapy was definitely a welcoming treat.
There was some stress relieving quality being in the island. When I gazed into the crack of dawn around 4 am, it felt as though time had stopped and caught in the moment of utter beauty of the sun: just peeking out behind still slightly fragmented clouds. That sight was breathtaking and memorable to say the least.
Yukio Kevin Iraha
It was about noon-ish; I was wandering in this abandoned, ready-to-be-demolished, three-story high building. I don’t know how I got there, but I must have been on about the third floor, in a large conference room with large windows. I could see the clear blue sky with the stunning cityscape. Almost all of the windows were shattered and broken glass was all over the floor. As I walked out of the room, I tried to stroll on the fence-less ledge. A strong gust of wind pushed me back to the cooler concrete wall.
Then I thought I heard someone whispering, saying, in Japanese,“Welcome home." I looked around to see if anybody was there, but I saw no one. As I walked down what seemed like an exiting staircase, I was thinking where was I and why was I wandering in this building? The building must have been built around the 1950s or an even earlier period. When I reached the ground floor, I finally realized that this was the school I went to in my elementary school years.
As I was staring at the school, an old man, who appeared to be drunk, approached and asked me if I was familiar with the school. I told him that I was one of the graduates. Then he asked me if I knew so and so; I said I did and was pleasantly surprised with familiarity. He kept on naming names whom I recognized, but at the end, his face turned gloomy. All of those kids died, he said. Apparently one afternoon, when the kids were playing in the school playground, a jumbo-jet sized meteor fell on them, killing every one of them instantly. I uttered some word but didn’t make sense, because I was in state of shock with disbelief.
“Just kidding!” The old man burst into laughter and said what really happened was a giant marshmallow landed on them while they were playing; they decided to eat the darn thing. One of the kids suffered gallbladder disease after eating that and other became diabetic, but managed well with medication. The school is to be demolished because it’s contaminated with high levels of radiation too hazardous for anyone to be in it. Some years ago, a group of political rebels came and took over the school, held forty or so children hostage, trashed, and barricaded the school. They declared their protest against government established educational system. That hostage crisis lasted for three days and ended when tiny aliens came, invading every one of those thugs’ brains, implanting powerful bombs the size of grain of salt. The old man paused for a moment and said when that bombs went off not a single soul had survived its impact.
On my way back home, I was reflecting on that beguiling old man's story but also thinking how memories slip away at times; even the painful events we remember turn into tolerable disturbances. It’s like the turbulence of an airplane ride: only temporary bumps on the road.
I was reflecting on my travel itinerary, over a week long, on the flight back home. I noticed the flight attendants were handing out snacks and drinks. “Would you like a snack and or something to drink?” asked one of the attendants, handing me a package of marshmallows.
I thanked her and took a bite of marshmallow. Just then, in the blink of eye, I warped back inside of the elementary school, standing in that very same conference like room before. Only this time, I wasn’t alone. There was a room full of children, about 10 to 12 years of age. Their eyes were like ravenous wolves and each one of them held a small Swiss knife in their hands. Just then they charged at me. I ran away, but tripped over something, and fell on the floor. Shocked from the impact, I warped back into that airline seat. Looking around, relieved, I thought I must have been very tired from the trip. I closed my eyes, tried to relax and thought to myself that I just had some kind of temporary hallucination. Flight attendants were distributing some refreshment and snacks. One of them asked if I like snack and something to drink as she handed me a package of marshmallows.
-Yukio Kevin Iraha
P.S. Yes, it's a fiction.
On Wednesday, October 30th at 6:30 pm K. breathed their last breath. An advanced form of cancer had metastasized all over K‘s body, and by the time it was known that care was needed, it was too late. K. was someone I’d known for many, many years and even though we had not had contact as often as we should’ve, I’d like to think we were close.
I hear people say in response to grief, “You’ll feel better as time goes by.” Even though there is some truth to that, that lingering feeling of loss never seems to go away. It only takes a certain item or memento to bring back a flood of memories. It gets harder to shake that melancholy off as one gets older. Natural pessimist that I am, my fondest memories are usually vague or not as clear, even if I look at photos of those moments which I shared with K. Maybe I’m trying to block out unfavorable memories, unconsciously. Nevertheless, there is symbolic power in that loss of someone close, or even if the relation was not that close. It’s like the news that some pop icon passed away in recent years. It affects our psyche at some level. It’s the end of an era and it lets us know that it’s time to grow up; stand on our own whether we’re ready or not.
Talking about the loss of loved one doesn’t seem to relieve grief either. It only intensifies the loss and a form of anger comes back. It reveals how helpless and utterly powerless we all are. Grief is like going into a fierce battlefield with only a butter knife in hand. It’s a sure losing battle. Oddly, though, there is the relentless urge to let others know that you’ve been wounded, even though it’s the loved one who no longer with us. When I heard the news, the initial shock dissipated and was soon replaced by the urge to let others know the situation. It’s as if the weight of the burden was too much to carry on my own; I needed to unload it. I am much appreciative to those who have responded kindly to this deeply personal and tragic news.
If I had the chance to ask K. a question, it would be
“Did you have a full life? Did you feel like you had satisfying life? “
Life certainly is not to be taken for granted. I know that sounds cliché, but we ought to live each day as a gift. I’m still very much affected by this news but the consolation of K. passing is that one battle and suffering is over.