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Year of Remembrance

Glimpses of a Forever Foreigner

"American Citizens," Roger Shimomura, lithograph, 2015, courtesy of the artist
 
On view February 17, 2017 – February 11, 2018
Featuring poems by Lawrence Matsuda and artwork by Roger Shimomura
Opening reception February 16, 6-8pm

The Hugh & Jane Ferguson Foundation Welcome Hall

On February 19, 1942, President Franklin D. Roosevelt issued Executive Order 9066, which resulted in the forced removal and incarceration of 120,000 Japanese and Japanese Americans. They were charged with no crime. The cause of their imprisonment was their ancestry.

This exhibition recognizes the 75th Anniversary of Executive Order 9066, and explores historic and contemporary issues of racism, discrimination and human rights.

The inspiration for the exhibition came from “Glimpses of a Forever Foreigner,” a book of poems by Lawrence Matsuda and artwork by Roger Shimomura. We asked Lawrence and Roger to share about their process and the relevancy of the Japanese American incarceration.

How did the book, “Glimpses of a Forever Foreigner” come about?
LM: In America and Japan I am like a foreigner. But in Paris I am an American. The book addresses ironies related to being like a foreigner in his one's own country.

Describe your collaboration process.
RS: For the most part I had total independence where style and content were concerned. As I read the poems if something struck me that translated to a pictorial image, I would do some sketches and decide whether to further develop the drawing. In addition I chose some pre-existing works that I felt addressed the same or similar issues.

Could you share more about your poem, Legacy?
LM: Since Japanese Americans were the first to be taken, we must be the first to stand if it happens again.

Could you share more about this painting?
RS: “American Citizen” was one of about 7-8 paintings I’ve done in response to our new president’s stated ambivalence towards the WWII incarceration of Japanese Americans. Based upon that fact it is apparent today that Muslims are the new Japanese Americans.

(Both) What do you want visitors to take away from this exhibition?
LM: To understand the facts and emotions related to the WWII forced incarceration, so that if it happens again they can make clear and informed decisions about what they should do next.

RS: I feel that the current public political discourse reflects how much the standards of reason have deteriorated. Hopefully this exhibition and associated programming will remind the viewers of the consequences of repeating past mistakes.

Legacy
By Lawrence Matsuda

When hecklers circle a north Seattle
mosque after 9-11,
I won’t turn my back
in silence knowing vultures
will descend on shuttered stores
and homes when hate
stains holy walls.

Who will stand
on granite mosque stairs,
link arms with brown brothers
and sisters?

I will stand for my
Mother and Father,
who sixty years ago
could not against US Army
bayonets, Browning rifles,
President Roosevelt
and Executive Order 9066.

I am like an alien abductee
who walks among
the living knowing pain
and humiliation of being taken
while most white
Americans look away.
I have no nightmares about
gray creatures with spindly fingers
pushing needles into my belly button.
My stomach is a chunk of black basalt,
heavy like a meteorite, weight
that disappears only when I stand.

With only one lifetime to swing a pick,
toss dirt, haul ore, I hoist a lantern
in black tunnels, slide my hands
to atomic bonds, meld them
with stalactites and stalagmites of justice.

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Year of Remembrance is made possible by the support of community partners and the generosity of our donors and sponsors.

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