"Minidoka on My Mind"

Home and family from a Japanese-American perspective

While “Japan Envisions the West” at SAM, artist Roger Shimomura’s “Minidoka on My Mind,” on display at Greg Kucera, shines a fascinating light on one contemporary man’s personal experience growing up as a Japanese-American and being interred in Idaho during World War II. In these 30 paintings, Shimomura shifts the voyeuristic focus of his previous work from culture at large to the family, examining racial conflicts as they personally affected his own. In “night watch #3” a series of bunker-like homes reveal families sleeping, playing musical instruments, and living otherwise normally inside. “Classmates” shows, in candy colors, a Caucasian and a Japanese American on literally opposite sides of the fence. The style is actually derived from 14th-15th century screen painting, though Shimomura transforms that narrative style into something with a comic-book flourish, modernizing an old form of visual storytelling while making it no less potent.

Dec. 4-22, 2007

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