New Exhibition Touches on Okinawan History

At the Sekai Uchinaanchu Taikai (Okinawa Worldwide Festival), hosted every five years by the Okinawan government, people of Okinawan descent from all over the world come home for a week of activities and socializing. Photo by Allyson Nakamoto.
At the Sekai Uchinaanchu Taikai (Okinawa Worldwide Festival), hosted
every five years by the Okinawan government, people of Okinawan descent from all over the world come home for a week of activities and socializing.
Photo: Allyson Nakamoto.

 

On July 11, JANM will open a new exhibition, Sugar/Islands: Finding Okinawa in Hawai‘i—The Art of Laura Kina and Emily Hanako Momohara. The two artists in the exhibition examine their mixed-heritage roots in Okinawa and Hawai‘i, drawing heavily from ancestral histories. The opening day will coincide with a JANM Free Family Day, which will feature many crafts and activities inspired by Okinawan culture.

Although it is currently part of Japan, Okinawa for most of its history was an independent island kingdom called Ryukyu. Because of its location between the Pacific Ocean and the East China Sea, sailors, traders, scholars, and travelers from Southeast Asia, China, Korea, Japan, and beyond visited the Ryukyu Kingdom. Over time, elements of the languages, arts, and traditions from those countries found their way into the Ryukyuan culture, enriching it and making it even more distinct from its neighbors. In the Okinawan language (Uchinaaguchi), this mixing of cultural influences is called champuru.

A traditional shiisaa (lion/dog) stands guard in Okinawa. Photo: Allyson Nakamoto.
A traditional shiisaa (lion/dog) stands guard in Okinawa. Photo: Allyson Nakamoto.

In 1609, the kingdom was annexed by Japan. Trading continued under the banner of Japan, while the Ryukyuan court system, performing arts, literature, and crafts flourished. In 1879 however, Japan officially took over the kingdom and renamed it “Okinawa Prefecture,” dissolving the Ryukyuan monarchy. The Japanese government then attempted to eliminate Ryukyu’s native culture, replacing it with Japanese language, culture, and laws.

A variety of factors tied to changing social policy in Okinawa soon led to economic hardship and social unrest. At the same time, the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 created a need for more immigrant labor in the United States. In 1899, the first group of laborers left Okinawa for Hawai‘i. Emigration then began in earnest from Okinawa to Hawai‘i, to the mainland United States, and to South America.

It is the history of these immigrants that is explored in the art of Laura Kina and Emily Hanako Momohara. How did the former Ryukyuans make their lives in Hawai‘i? How did their culture continue to evolve in Hawai‘i, mixing with even more cultures? Despite all this champuru, there is still something that is distinctively and identifiably Okinawan.

Enhance Your Visit with Guide by Cell

 

Martin Hsu stands next to his painting Hello Kitty Transcendence, on view now as part of Hello! Exploring the Supercute World of Hello Kitty at JANM.
Martin Hsu stands next to his painting Hello Kitty Transcendence, on view now as part of Hello! Exploring the Supercute World of Hello Kitty at JANM.

 

Hello! Exploring the Supercute World of Kitty has finally arrived at JANM, and people can’t stop talking about it. Check the museum’s Facebook page for links to the latest press coverage of the exhibition, including stunning photos from the exhibition’s first week. If you haven’t seen the show yet, be sure to buy your advance tickets online.

Eimi Takano sits in front of her plush sculpture, Ribbon Camp.
Eimi Takano sits in front of her plush sculpture, Ribbon Camp.

While in the gallery, you can enhance your experience of this multifaceted exhibition with our exclusive Guide by Cell audio tours, available free of charge (except those that may be associated with your cell phone plan). The tours feature curator Christine Yano and several of the exhibiting artists offering their unique perspectives on the exhibition. Simply look for the cell phone logo on selected labels in the exhibition and dial 213.455.2924 to access the tours. Follow the prompts and enter the numbers given on the labels.

Still thinking about the exhibition after your visit? Or, not in Los Angeles but still curious to learn more? The great thing about these tours is that they are accessible from anywhere. Just visit our Hello! Extras page to access the phone number and the complete list of prompts.

The Hello! audio tours are available through April 26, 2015.

 

Supernatural: The Art of Audrey Kawasaki, Edwin Ushiro, and Timothy Teruo Watters

Supernatural opens February 9th!

Supernatural: The Art of Audrey Kawasaki, Edwin Ushiro, and Timothy Teruo Watters

Supernatural: The Art of Audrey Kawasaki, Edwin Ushiro, and Timothy Teruo Watters opens this Saturday!

The exhibition features the work of Audrey Kawasaki, Edwin Ushiro, and Timothy Teruo Watters—artists who have explored some of these otherworldly concepts, illustrating how traditional ideas have evolved and been adapted over time.

The exhibition will be up from February 9 – March 17, 2013. That’s just 5 weeks to come check it out before it closes!

For more details, visit: janm.org/supernatural

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We are celebrating the opening with two FREE events!

TARGET FREE FAMILY SATURDAY
Art from the Heart
11AM – 4PM
FREE ALL DAY!
Celebrate Valentine’s Day and the opening of Supernatural exhibition! Show your love by making art for yourself and others. Participate in art workshops with Timothy Watters and Edwin Ushiro!

Check janm.org/target for schedule >> 

 

Supernatural Opening Party
6:30PM – 9PM
FREE!
Get mystical with JANM! Celebrate the opening of Supernatural with the artists and some spooky fun—wandering ghosts, a medium, and special treats!

* * * * *

Learn more about the exhibition and the artists on our Discover Nikkei website. We’ll be adding an interview with Timothy Watters next week:

* * * * *

Here are a few photos from the exhibition installation happening this week. Check our Facebook page for more photos: Supernatural photo album

 

Artist Edwin Ushiro prepares sketchbooks to display in the exhibition
Edwin Ushiro's sketchbooks
Paintings by Timothy Teruo Watters waiting to be hung

Giant Robot Biennale 3 — Opening Party on Sept 22nd

 Giant Robot is returning to JANM!

GRB3 Opening Party
Saturday, September 22
6PM – 10PM
FREE!

Giant Robot Biennale 3 opens with a party on Saturday, September 22.

Join us as we celebrate the exhibition opening with curator Eric Nakamura, GRB3 artists, and a performance by Money Mark!

The third show in conjunction with Eric Nakamura, owner of Asian American pop culture juggernaut Giant Robot. Giant Robot Biennale 3 will feature a gallery of eight emerging artists along with a customized vinyl figure collection.

Following two previous successful exhibitions at the National Museum, the Biennale continues to push the envelope with a creative, fresh, and uniquely interactive experience. This year’s exhibition highlights the works of Rob Sato, Deth P. Sun, Ako Castuera, Eishi Takaoka, Saelee Oh, Sean Chao, Albert Reyes, and Zach Gage.

Using figures designed by Uglydoll creator David Horvath, Nakamura curated Project Remix, a custom vinyl show with over 80 artists from seven countries—including the rare combination of both established customizers and fine artists.

Special additions to the exhibition include an original piece from Japanese painter Masakatsu Sashie as well as arcade machines running Jeni Yang and Beau Blyth’s new indie video game, Catburger.

Check janm.org/grb3 for more info about the exhibition and related programs.

“Drawing the Line” exhibition opening soon!

Drawing the Line: Japanese American Art, Design & Activism in Post-War Los Angeles…the title says it all. But what can you really expect to see?

Here's a few quick shots taken on my phone. Just a few teasers from the in-progress installation of "Drawing the Line"

Paintings, sketches, photographs, video clips, historic documents, a trophy, a guitar, and a Corvette!

In-progress installation shot of Ben Sakoguchi paintings in "Drawing the Line"

Curious? Intrigued?

Then make plans to join us for the exhibition opening on Saturday, October 15 at 5:30pm. Some light refreshments, hear from curator Kris Kuramitsu, check out the exhibition, meet some of the artists, and take in a special performance by Nobuko Miyamoto with Benny Yee and Atomic Nancy!

In-progress installation shot of Qris Yamashita's works

Please RSVP to specialevents@janm.org by October 11th for the opening event.

For more information about the exhibition, check out the link below.

This is part of the Getty’s Pacific Standard Time project, so we hope to have a good turn-out for this event!

DRAWING THE LINE:
Japanese American Art, Design & Activism in Post-War Los Angeles
October 15, 2011 through February 19, 2012
janm.org/exhibits/drawingtheline

Thanks to Tom Schay, we'll have a 1963 Corvette Sting Ray in the exhibition. This iconic car and many others were designed by Larry Shinoda.
“Drawing the Line” banner is already outside!