Maki Kawakita

It’s hard to put Missy Elliot in a box. Unless of course you happen to be photographer Maki Kawakita, who had no trouble getting Ms. Elliot to play dead for a shoot that involved boxing up the seemingly disembodied heads of her models. A dancer with a background in traditional Japanese theater, her photos have an eye toward the dramatic. It’s a handy thing then that her portfolio is packed with performers like Alicia Keys, Beyoncé, Hillary Duff, and other subjects that are no strangers to the stage. Drawing a stylistic line between her fashion and fine art photography and her commercial photography is difficult. Her choreography expertise translates to both exceptionally well, bringing a feeling of grace and movement to the subjects of her photos, whether they are posing for one of her conceptual projects or an ad for her long list of clients, which includes Levi’s, Smirnoff, Kodak, Coors Light, and just about every major record label you can think of.

Taking advantage of the opportunity to work outside of her usual medium, the artist took a step back from the high-gloss theatrics of her photography and delivered a decidedly simple, elegant study on the origins of guacamole. Says Kawakita of her mats, and her work, “Whatever I create always connects to what’s happening with me at the moment. Whether it’s a happy moment or sad one, all are very personal.”