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Roger Shimomura: Minidoka on My Mind

Greg Kucera Gallery
Seattle WA – Nov 15-Dec 22, 2007

Roger Shimomura - Block Dance Break #2

Roger Shimomura, Block Dance Break #2 (2006), acrylic on canvas [Greg Kucera Gallery, Seattle WA, Nov 15-Dec 22]

Roger Shimomura's latest body of work, Minidoka on My Mind, reconstructs life inside Camp Minidoka, Idaho, the site of 13,000 internees from Washington, Oregon and Alaska between 1942-45. As a young Japanese American child, Shimomura was detained with his parents during World War II in this barren landscape of sagebrush and dust. He uses his ethnic heritage as a jumping off point to both reflect on the events of the 1940s war years and to promote an awareness of the current state of American international affairs.

The Seattle-born artist began dealing with themes of racial intolerance and stereotypes surrounding his Japanese American identity in 1969 after arriving to teach at the University of Kansas. Shimomura applies a graphic/pop treatment to his outlined subjects, using flat planes of colour to fuse the accessibility of comic book style with the provocation of a larger social message.

Shimomura's images are distilled from bits of personal memory, passages from his late grandmother's journal, government publications, books, magazines and a general recollection of what comes to mind when he thinks of camp. The hastily-built, uninsulated barracks and desolate landscape set a tone for the monotony of their daily life. Depicting a wide range of people and situations framed by pictures of the bleak structures or "blocks", Shimomura captures shadows of young children playing, women doing house chores and couples dancing behind barrack walls, all contained within the silhouettes of barbed wire that he uses as a constant reminder of their confinement within the relocation centres.


Allyn Cantor

 Sat, Nov 3, 2007