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Kanako Pooknyw

County: Thurston County



Grants for Artist Projects (GAP) 2021
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Kanako Pooknyw was born in 1975, in Sasebo, Nagasaki Prefecture, Japan.  They began making completed films in 1999, notably the feature 9 Weeks. This film exemplifies her mission to create films and other artistic works that span genres and give voice to those who have been historically misrepresented in mainstream media.

From 1995 to 2020 one of Kanako’s day jobs was working at a resale clothing store she founded in Olympia WA named Dumpster Values. The grunt of work involved being a picker, one who sorts clothes to choose items for resale.

One of Kanako’s favorite artists is also a picker.  This artist releases all their brilliant and profound work anonymously and is very adamant about being unknown. One conversation they shared while working Kanako thinks about every day. The anonymous artist shared how she tries to live her life without projecting anything onto anyone. This idea impacted Kanako profoundly. Pooknyw concluded that most of us are navigating life trying to deal with what others’ projects onto us. What we assume about each other. This insight informs Kanako’s new works.

Pooknyw is the recipient of grants from the Art Matters Foundation, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the Soroptimist Society.  Her films have won awards in Italy, Canada and the US.   From 2000 to 2016 she performed on extensive tours playing in the band Broken Water.  Since 1995 Kanako has facilitated 100s of live shows, often bringing acts to Olympia from around the world, showcasing artists that fly under-the-radar.

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Image: Peggy Piacenza, 2024 Fellowship Recipient

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