Artifacts of War
Fountain Sculpture for the Wing Luke Asian American Museum, Seattle, WA
April 27, 1999

This fountain was inspired by and dedicated to my Uncle, Private Mitsugi Ben Takamoto who was killed in action on July 29, 1951, and to all Asian Pacific Americans who have served in the armed forces for this country. Private Takamoto was posthumously awarded a Silver Star and a Purple Heart for gallantry in battle when he charged a heavily defended enemy position. His action diverted fire from his unit, allowing his comrades to seize the objective with minimum loss, and cost him his life.

Description of the Art
The fountain is a miniature rock garden inspired by Japanese Zen gardens that are places for personal reflection and contemplation. The artwork features a military issue canteen laid on its side. Water trickles out of it's opening onto an opened, partially buried mess kit tray in black gravel. The water overflows from the tray back into the ground. Strewn on the ground are artifacts of war; empty shell casings, a military uniform button, a tent stake, helmet, and personal photos. I explored several themes in the work including:

During wartime, water is a precious resource and is also a metaphor for life. It is a life sustaining fluid used to clean and heal wounds, to calm nerves, and to restore energy. The canteen, slowly emptying its contents, represents the soldier's ultimate sacrifice, the giving up of life.

The sound of the water draining out of the canteen is a very important characteristic in the artwork. It is a peaceful, meditative sound that encourages the viewer to reflect upon the horrible impact that war has on humanity.

The combination of the garden and the artifacts represent the contributions made by Asian Pacific American soldiers in service for this country.

© Greg Kono 2000-2007 All Rights Reserved.