Back to School!

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Schools have started and JANM is back in session! Buses pull up each morning, filled with students and teachers coming to learn more about the Japanese American experience.

We are always thinking about ways in which these visitors—most of whom are not of Japanese descent—can better relate to the Japanese American experience. One of the ways we do this is to use the artifacts (the “stuff”) from JANM’s collection as a means to begin conversations about visitors’ diverse, yet intersecting, experiences.

So last Spring, we worked with a group of ninth graders from Los Angeles Unified School District’s King/Drew Magnet High School of Medicine and Science to see how artifacts connect to stories of immigration/migration. These students uncovered family histories to learn how their artifacts related to their families’ journeys.

Before coming to JANM for a school visit, students photographed their artifacts and wrote short narratives about journeys to Los Angeles from other states, other countries. The artifacts, like the artifacts in JANM’s collection, are indeed very precious and have some amazing stories to tell!

We hope that the sampling of the essays from the King/Drew students might also get you thinking about your own stories of immigration/migration.

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The students’ essays were created as part of a pilot project between King/Drew Magnet High School of Medicine and Science, the Japanese American National Museum, and the Smithsonian Institution’s Our American Journey Project. OAJ is a multi-year project that will examine international and internal migration centered on what we understand today to be the United States.

Photos by Gary Ono.

Girl Scouts Return to JANM

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JANM School Programs Developer Lynn Yamasaki explains more about the treatment of Hapa children born in Japan after WWII.

 

We loved having local Girl Scouts come out again for our second annual Girl Scout Patch Program! This year’s program was all about identity, both on the individual and community level. We began the day with a tour of our exhibition Visible & Invisible: A Hapa Japanese American History (closing August 25th!). Lead by our School Programs Developer Lynn Yamasaki, the tour touched on the history of—and challenges faced by—mixed-race and mixed-roots Japanese Americans.

The tour was followed by a great discussion of some of the exhibition themes, like what it means to be Japanese in a rapidly evolving community. In the end, being Japanese  is about more than pure race, the scouts decided. Instead, Japanese American identity today  encompasses widespread cultural elements such as the ability to use chopsticks, a taste for sashimi (admittedly up for debate), and involvement in the community. On a more personal level, the girls discussed the many factors—from geography to heritage—that make up their backgrounds and shape their attitudes and behavior.

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Lynn leads a roundtable discussion with the scouts on what it means to be Japanese American today.

 

After the discussion, we moved on to expressing our identities in a more hands-on way—with the help of some paper doll templates and a vast array of supplies from the education closet! Each girl made a reflection of herself (and one mom joined in with a lovely family portrait), carefully selecting the portrait’s attributes and making each unique, from style of dress to life mottos.

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The scouts present their identity self-portraits…in paper doll form!

 

Photos by Richard Murakami

Giant Robot Artists’ Entourage

Giant Robot Biennale 3 closed this past Sunday but not without some cool happenings.  As part of what we called Giant Robot Artists’ Entourage, some of the GRB3 artists came to teach their techniques and share a bit about their art making process.

Eric Nakamura, Albert Reyes, Saelee Oh, and Rob Sato, were super-generous with their creativity and led several great art making workshops and discussions.  On Saturday we concluded the GR Entourage program with a watercolor workshop by Rob Sato.

Rob Sato demonstrating a watercolor masking technique

 

In addition to the public workshops, a major part of Giant Robot Artists’ Entourage was a series of workshops for high school students.  The result was a display of work that was produced during the workshops AND as an added bonus, last Friday a group of students from our neighbors at Mendez Learning Center came by for a visit!  This great group of people included two of the Entourage participants who helped lead their teachers and fellow students through the GRB3 exhibition and the display of their work.  It was the perfect way to continue the learning and conversation.

Big thanks to all the artists who shared with us and to the students and teachers from Mendez Learning Center and The Los Angeles School of Global Studies.  We had a great time with you all!

Support for the Giant Robot Entourage program is provided by the National Endowment of the Arts.

Eric Nakamura and students viewing the custom figures in the Project Remix show
After going through the galleries with Eric, students had a chance to customize their own Big Boss Robot.

 

Looking at Saelee Oh's work in the galleries with Saelee
Saelee Oh demonstrating her cutout process

 

Albert Reyes teaching an image transfer technique

 

Students in the galleries discuss Ako Castuera's work.

 

Display of student artwork created during workshops with Eric Nakamura, Saelee Oh, and Albert Reyes.

Many thanks to Richard Murakami and Gary Ono for taking photographs to document the workshops!

 

 

Summer for JANM Volunteers

During the summer when we have fewer school visitors, the Education Unit runs summer sessions for the volunteers. Here are some quick, recent highlights…

7/22/11 (Last Friday) – Clement led a special tour of his artwork featured in ROUND TRIP: Eight East Los Angeles College Alumni Artists at the newly opened Vincent Price Art Museum at East LA College. Standing in front of his low-rider rickshaw with “Yo No Soy Chino” written on it, we thought about Clement’s experiences growing up Japanese American in East LA.

7/29/11 (Today) – Frank Kawana was interviewed by his grandson, Cole, about being a second generation maker of kamaboko. Frank, possibly the only person on the mainland who can do it by hand, showed us HOW TO MAKE KAMABOKO. (Haven’t you always wondered how this is done?) Cole conducted an interview that was absolutely fascinating, even to a vegetarian like me.

It was eaten up so quickly that Clement’s picture of the last slice is the only photographic evidence we have. Those who were lucky enough to taste it said Frank’s fresh kamaboko was even better than what you buy in the store. So when you have Yamasa kamaboko, think of the Kawanas. More info about the interview—as well as tips on how to do an interview of your own—will be available shortly on our Discover Nikkei Web site.

7/29/11 (Today) – While Lynn was leading the volunteers on a tour of JANM’s current exhibition Year of the Rabbit: Stan Sakai’s Usagi Yojimbo, Stan Sakai, the artist himself, stopped by. He gave us even more insight into the making of Usagi Yojimbo.

As Richard M. (who gets most of the photo credits on this post) said, “We really hit the jackpot today.”

Ever thought about volunteering for the Museum and joining in on the fun???