Los Angeles Summer of Learning is here!

Are you a student in the Los Angeles area? Are you a parent of a student in the Los Angeles area? Have you heard of Los Angeles Summer of Learning? Well this is something that you should definitely know about!

JANM-Natsumatsuri-logo-250px

Los Angeles Summer of Learning is a great new initiative that seeks to engage young people with hands-on learning activities at museums, parks, libraries, and other organizations during the summer months. Think of Los Angeles as one giant summer classroom where students can earn digital badges for participating in fun and educational activities throughout the city.

JANM is proud to participate in this initiative with our 2014 Natsumatsuri Family Festival on Saturday, August 9th. Students can earn a digital badge by coming to our popular annual summer celebration and checking out an array of traditional Japanese and Japanese American performances, crafts, talks, workshops, and special events. Admission is FREE all day!

To participate in Los Angeles Summer of Learning, all you have to do is sign up on the website and browse for activities that interest you or your children. You will be on your way to earning digital badges in no time! To get your Natsumatsuri badge, be sure to come to JANM on August 9th and ask for your badge claim code at our survey table.

You can read more about Los Angeles Summer of Learning here.

Back to School!

_MG_0032 small

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.

_MG_0092 small

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.

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!

 

 

50th Anniversary of the Freedom Rides

Panelists (L to R): Robert Singleton, Helen Singleton, Sybil Jordan Hampton (moderator), Tamio Wakayama
Student with his artwork inspired by the Freedom Rides

I often take for granted how easy it is to follow breaking news. To find out what happened during a raid on a compound in Pakistan, I can turn on a 24-hours news channel or click on a few links to get caught up.

But 50 years ago the medium of television was new. And 50 years ago today, the first buses of Freedom Riders (and three reporters) left Washington, D.C. and headed South to test Boynton v. Virginia, the U.S. Supreme Court decision that had desegregated interstate travel. What followed changed the course of the United States history.

The Freedom Rides have been on our minds a lot this year. On February 9, 2011 the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of American History organized a Web cast and National Youth Summit that brought together Freedom Riders in D.C. and engaged five Smithsonian Affiliates from across the nation to discuss the meaning of the Freedom Rides and the role of young people in shaping America’s past and future.

Student with Dr. Robert Singleton

JANM was honored to have been selected as the West Coast venue for this program and streamed the Webcast to a live audience of students from LAUSD’s Civitas School of Leadership and Ribet Academy. Following the Webcast, Dr. Robert and Mrs. Helen Singleton, two Los Angeles-based Freedom Riders, and Mr. Tamio Wakayama, a Japanese Canadian member of SNCC, were on a panel moderated by Dr. Sybil Jordan Hampton, a member of JANM’s Board of Trustees and herself an important figure in the Civil Rights Movement. We were star struck!!!

This has gotten us thinking about how the Freedom Rides impacted Japanese Americans, and especially how it may have emboldened those in the Redress Movement. What were the Issei, Nisei, and Sansei who watched these images broadcast on national television (just as that medium was becoming commonplace) thinking and feeling as they watched the buses burning, the cruel racism, and brave individuals standing up for what was right?

What would you have been thinking if you had been watching those Freedom Riders make their way South under the “protection” of Boynton v. Virginia?

P.S. To learn more about the Freedom Rides, tune into your PBS station on May 16 and also we highly recommend The Children by David Halberstam. Learn more about new generation of young people who are about to retrace the path of the Freedom Riders. And, maybe you can catch a glimpse of the Singletons when Oprah Winfrey reunites the Freedom Riders on May 4.

Photographer: Tracy Kumono