rae xiang


Kay Sekimachi





Jan 2024

I had the joy of bringing Kay Sekimachi's story to life, as part of a Youtube series by the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.

The goal of this series is to make accessible stories of traditionally under-represented voices in American Art. To work on this together with a seasoned female Asian American Producer was especially meaningful.

This was my first time assembling and directing a team of animators. Puzzle-solving a way to showcase each person's diverse strengths was a creative problem as interesting as designing the animation itself.

Visual Language

Simple, flat shading

Early on, we decided on a water-color texture with simple visual language.

This was to highlight the minimalist nature of her work as well as give a nod to Chiura Obata, who taught Sekimachi briefly at a WWII internment camp.

It was a new challenge for me to explore flat-shaders. While they limited the use of lighting, the lighting-fast render speeds were essential to iterate quickly on an animation of this scale.

Symbols and Motifs

I was greatly inspired by the stores of Sekimachi, her contemporaries, and their common inspiration from nature.

Obata, known for his landscape paintings, was a strong believer that art could provide the common ground necessary to transcend the barriers of nationalism and racism.

The use of birds as a theme was inspired by Tyrus Wong and the retrospective on his work "Water to Paper, Paint to Sky".

Full Credits

Director: Rae Xiang

Program Manager: Sabine Birk Larsen

3D Animators: Sabine Birk Larsen, Olivia Petersson, Rae Xiang

Cel Animators: Malin Eriksson, Than Loedsatien, Olivia Petersson

Compositor: Than Loedsatien

Original Music: Bryan Stage

Produced by Morzov Productions

Interview audio courtesy of Japanese American National Museum and Archives of American Art.