Resilience—A Sansei Sense of Legacy
In 1942, in response to the bombing of Pearl Harbor by Japanese forces, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed into law Executive Order 9066. The law ordered the forced imprisonment of all Japanese Americans living on the west coast of the United States, which has the second largest population of Japanese people living outside of Japan.
Following the US’s deployment of EO9066, similar laws were enacted throughout Latin America as well. In the years following the order’s retraction at the end of WWII, expatriate Japanese families and individuals were forced to come to terms with lost property, the shame and indignation of incarceration, and the task of re-integration into a society that had expelled them. After their release from the incarceration camps that dotted the American West and Midwest during the war, Japanese Americans used the phrase Shikata ga nai—it cannot be helped—and the word gaman—to persevere and stay silent—to speak to their resilience against the losses they incurred at the behest of Roosevelt’s order.
Told from the point of view of Sansei (third generation) Japanese Americans, Resilience—A Sansei Sense of Legacy is an exhibition of eight artists whose work reflects on the effect of EO9066 as it resonated from generation to generation. While several of the artists in Resilience employ traditional Japanese methods in the construction of their work—Lydia Nakashima Degarrod’s use of boro stitching on her works on paper; Judy Shintani’s use of kintsugi on the ceramic vessels which accompany her deconstructed kimonos—others use iconography relating to Japanese culture as a jumping-off point for personal explorations on the subject of the incarceration camps—Reiko Fuji’s photographs-as-kimono; Wendy Maruyama’s columns of replicated camp ID tags. Each in their own way, the artists in this exhibition express moments of deeply felt pain and reluctant acceptance, emotions which were often withheld by their elders.
Exhibition artists are: Kristine Aono, Reiki Fuji, Wendy Maruyama, Lydia Nakashima Degarrod, Tom Nakashima, Roger Shimomura, Judy Shintani, and Jerry Takigawa.
Co-curated by artist Jerry Takigawa and Gail Enns, Resilience was conceived to serve as a catalyst to cultivate social dialog and change around the issues of racism, hysteria and economic exploitation still alive in America today. The eight artists featured in Resilience were selected because of their personal connection to the subject matter, because their work is well respected within the Japanese American community as well as within the art world, and because of their activism on the subject of incarceration camps.
Takigawa and Enns explain, “The Sansei generation is perhaps the last generation of Japanese American artists that can be directly connected to the WWII American concentration camp experience—making their expression particularly significant in clarity of emotion. These artists lived through the years of “gaman” or silence about the camps. That silence made a deep impression on the artists selected for Resilience.”
About the Curators:
Gail Enns is the director of the nonprofit arts management organization Celadon Arts (founded 1998, Monterey, CA). Evidenced most recently by Resilience, Enn’s curatorial focus throughout her 30-year career has included the interaction between art, community, and some of the more challenging aspects of the human condition.
Jerry Takigawa is an independent photographer, designer, writer, and the co-founder of the annual PIE (Photography + Ideas + Experience) workshop series held at the Center for Photographic Art in Carmel-by-the-Sea, CA. A third generation Japanese American, Takigawa is a proponent of design as a tool for effecting radical shifts in human thought.
Resilience—A Sansei Sense of Legacy will tour December 2021 through January 2027. The dates below reflect ten-week exhibition periods. Dates are subject to change; please contact MoreArt@maaa.org or (800) 473-3872 x208/209 for current availability.
December 1, 2021–February 8, 2022
March 9–May 28, 2022
Alice Sabatini Gallery
Topeka, KS pending
June 27–September 3, 2022
October 1–December 22, 2022
January 10–July 7, 2023
The Washington State Historical Society
Tacoma, WA pending
August 7–January 14, 2024
International Museum of Art Science
McAllen, TX available
February 19–May 3, 2024
May 31–August 9, 2024
September 9–November 15, 2024
Windgate Art Museum
Conway, AR pending
December 13, 2024–May 31, 2025
Illinois Holocaust Museum
Skokie, IL pending
June 30–September 8, 2025
Cherokee Strip Regional Heritage Cennter
Enid, OK pending
October 6–December 15, 2025
January 12–April 6, 2026
May 4–July 13, 2026
August 10–October 19, 2026
November 16, 2026–January 25, 2027
twenty-six works of fine art by eight artists
Custom-Designed and Built Crates
Gail Enns and Jerry Takigawa
ExhibitsUSA, Mid-America Arts Alliance, Kansas City, MO
Out-of-Region Rental Fee
In-Region Rental Fee
Number of Crates/Total Weight
nine crates estimated
The exhibition is fully insured by ExhibitsUSA at no additional expense to you, both while installed and during transit.