‘The Dawning of Asian Pacific America’

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From left: Eddie Wong, Karen Ishizuka, Robert Nakamura and Duane Kubo at JANM’s Tateuchi Democracy Forum. (J.K. YAMAMOTO/Rafu Shimpo)

“At First Light: The Dawning of Asian Pacific America,” a multi-media exhibition that explores and celebrates the emergence of a politically defined Asian Pacific American consciousness and identity, opened May 25 at the Japanese American National Museum.

To commemorate the opening, JANM hosted Visual Communications (VC) co-founders and exhibition curators Duane Kubo, Robert Nakamura, and Eddie Wong in a panel discussion about the history of VC and the creation of this show.

They were joined by scholar, author, producer, and JANM Chief Curator Karen Ishizuka, who moderated the discussion, helping to place VC’s history as the first Asian Pacific American media organization in the nation within the context of today’s changing world.

Nakamura showed excerpts from his 1975 film “Wataridori: Birds of Passage,” which focused on his immigrant father, to show resonance of immigration issues then and now.

Kubo and Wong showed some of “Stories Behind the Videos,” a compilation of VC-produced short films that are part of the exhibition. One of them was about the controversial participation of the Van Troi Anti-Imperialist Youth Brigade, an Asian American student group opposed to the Vietnam War, in the 1972 Nisei Week Parade.

Another film was a tribute to Steve Tatsukawa, an executive director of VC who passed away in 1984 at the age of 35.

The videos can be viewed online through Vimeo.

The team that put the exhibition together also included Tad Nakamura (son of Ishizuka and Robert Nakamura), Daryn Wakasa, Abe Ferrer of VC and Clement Hanami of JANM.

A donor reception was held the night before the opening, with JANM President and CEO Ann Burroughs and VC Executive Director Francis Cullado among the participants.

“At First Light” runs until Oct. 20. JANM is located at 100 Central Ave. (at First Street) in Little Tokyo. For more information, call (213) 625-0414 or visit www.janm.org.

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