Kansas City, MO: Lawrence Lithography Workshop, 2005. Shimomura, Roger. Large quarto. (8)ff., loose. One of twenty-six copies, containing a suite of six lithographs, each signed, dated, and titled by the artist, Roger Shimomura. Each of the six images in this portfolio was loosely inspired by a notable photograph or painting made during the forced internment of 120,000 Japanese Americans during World War II. These references include photographs by Dorothea Lange and Ansel Adams, and paintings by Masao Mori and Tokio Ueyama. Shimomura imbues his images with subtle, unsettling details, such as barbed wire and an ID tag around a young girl’s neck. He pairs these with depictions of traditional Japanese figures, replete with kimono, geta, and typical headdress. The result is a presentation of America’s inability to differentiate between Japanese Americans and the Japanese enemy, playing on racial stereotypes to call out the blanket confusion and racism that still persists today.
The images simultaneously implicate the very art world to which Shimomura belongs, demanding that the viewer and the canon from which they hail redirect their gaze from the simplistic and mainstream to the nuanced and underground. By openly referencing Dorothea Lange, Shimomura requires the viewer to relate her depictions of migrants in the Great Depression to those of migrants from other countries; by incorporating Ansel Adams, he shades our perception of Adams’ massive vistas with the human suffering that was occuring at the same time, seemingly just out of shot.
Shimomura focuses much of his work on issues of identity and perception, often combining pop culture and traditional Asian imagery to call out the nuance between the two. His art spans the ideological, sociological, and aesthetic themes of the 20th century, allowing him to uniquely position himself as both insider and outsider to the United States and its paradoxes.
The images were drawn on paper by Shimomura and photographically transferred to aluminum litho plates, which were then hand-painted and printed on a direct pressure flatbed press. The title sheet and images were printed on 300 gsm Arches Cover White, while the colophon was printed on 250 gsm Somerset Soft White. All are housed in an orange cloth-covered portfolio made by Priscilla Spitler. Fine. See also image at start of chapter and images on next two pages. Item #30233