Portland-based photographer Mako Miyamoto pairs fantastic figures with vivid backdrops to create stunning work that begs to be seen. Known primarily for his “Wookie” characters–who casually don human clothing while frequenting various earthly locales–Miyamoto instantly transcends any semblance of campiness thanks to his genuinely cinematic eye. And while Stars Wars associations are inevitable, the famous space epic is at best a launching point from which Miyamoto explores a sci-fi terrain uniquely his own. Viewers are thereby invited into the world of the artist, one that strikes an exquisite balance between the real and imagined.
Miyamoto’s latest exhibit is called Further West and it sees the artist building upon his own mythology. Visually, it’s an origin story of when the Wookies first arrived on our native planet. The show represents a few firsts for Miyamoto. Namely, it’s the first time the artist incorporates human beings into the frame and it’s the first time he’s using futuristic props to heighten the narrative. The result is a spectacular display of colour, backdrop, story and detail. As for those props, Miyamoto built most of them by hand in his home studio because he’s obviously some sort of design ninja.
While Miyamoto doesn’t shy away from a little digital trickery to get a point across, the work itself never feels anything short of completely natural. Meanwhile, the geographical terrain is more or less 100% certified organic. To find such legendary backdrops, Miyamoto and his wife/muse travel around Oregon using artistic instinct and Google maps as their guides.
In the words of Miyamoto: “Further West aims to reframe themes of imperialism and manifest destiny in American history. Refugees and pioneers on the brink of the unknown step onto foreign soil. Engulfed by the sprawl of the landscape before them, they begin to shape the world while the known and unknown collide. Natural and constructed spaces become augmented as mid-century Americana culture adapts, shifts and changes its trajectory toward a new and uncertain future.”
For those seeking art that’s innately eye-catching and bursting with cinematic edge, Miyamoto is your man. Should you pull the trigger and buy a piece, expect to tell your friends where you got it because trust us they’ll want to know.