Local Artist Spotlight: Rae Akino

Our intern, Sophia Maggio, recently interviewed local Seattle Artist, Rae Akino, who tells stories through her art, and has found healing along the way. 

SM: What brought you to art?

RA: As a child I displayed interest as talent in drawing and crafts but was told that could never be a real job and that I had to aspire to be more practical and realistic. So, I never took it seriously until I experienced a rough life transition: not knowing where I wanted to be, realizing that I was unhappy, losing one of the most important people in my life and ultimately spiraling into a deep depression. I was advised to draw my way out of it, and things became clear.

SM: How do you find your subject matter?

RA: Mostly through my culture, the stories that were untold, colorful characters, and my own life experiences and convictions.

SM: Do you believe that the arts can be healing for everyone?

RA: The arts can be healing to those who allow it to be. If a person cannot see beyond the pretty picture on the wall, then they cannot make the connection to themselves, thus begin the work. Being vulnerable is the first step to healing. Without letting those guards down, one cannot clearly see what is damaged.

SM: What have the biggest obstacles been for you as an artist?

RA: Self-doubt. Failure to acknowledge the full magnitude of my abilities.

SM: Who has influenced your work the most?

RA: The people of my community and some of the creatives who came before me. Toni Morrison, Alice Walker, Alvin Ailey.

SM: What is your experience of being in the creative process?

RA: It can be free flowing and serene, or a struggle. That all depends on the story that I am telling and how it relates to me. In order to portray an idea or an experience on canvas truthfully, it’s important to be in that space mentally and emotionally.

SM: What would you say to someone who is afraid to start creating?

RA: Use that fear as the first creation. What does it look like? What does it feel like? What color is it?

SM: As an artist, do you view yourself as a storyteller? Is there a consistent narrative/theme you try to express in your work?

RA: Yes, I do consider myself a storyteller. Some of many consistent narratives that I express in my work are vulnerability, female self-empowerment, and duality.

Rae Akino’s work is currently on view through 10/27/19 at Arts West in West Seattle. You can also visit her website: Rae Akino