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Nikkei Progressives Workshop for ‘Families Belong Together’ Quilt

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Zen Sekizawa and Mario Correa

Nikkei Progressives (NP) invites the Japanese American community to participate in a creative way to show support for immigrants and refugees who are currently being detained and many of whom continue to face family separation.

On Saturday, Dec. 15, from 1:30 to 4:30 p.m. in the fifth-floor Cultural Room at the Japanese American Cultural & Community Center, 244 San Pedro St. in Little Tokyo, NP is hosting a community art workshop to begin creating a beautiful quilt full of art and messages of solidarity and support. This workshop will be led by artists Zen Sekizawa and Mario Correa.

NP hopes that individuals, community organizations, churches and all people concerned with civil and human rights will join this effort. The Families Belong Together (FBT) Quilt will be composed of many panels (squares) separately created by groups and individuals.

The FBT Quilt project is part of a national Never Again Is Now Campaign, which draws parallels between the Japanese American concentration camp experience and the detention and family separation experienced by many immigrants and refugees today.

This art piece by Amy Uyematsu was one of the first submissions to the quilt.

The purpose of the quilt is:

• To visually express messages of solidarity with immigrants and refugees

• To involve many sectors of the Asian American community, including community organizations, artists, youth, churches/temples, concerned individuals

• To raise funds/donations to directly help detainees, reunite families, and assist Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients

• To use and display the quilt at events, marches, rallies, and venues

Any individual or organization interested in creating a panel can obtain one of three sizes of canvas squares: 16”, 24” and 32”. These squares can be painted, appliquéd, decoupaged or hand-drawn. Digital files can also be printed onto the canvas. Poetry or other messages can be incorporated.

Donations for squares will be given to immigrant and refugee families; however, donations are not required. Families and all age groups are welcome. Participants need not be artists or even have artistic skills to attend. Come with your ideas and any photos, drawings, poetry or words that inspire you.

For more information, contact Nikkei Progressives at [email protected]

About the Artists

Los Angeles artist Mario Correa has developed a multidisciplinary painting practice that encompasses drawing, painting, printmaking, installation, objects and furniture. Enlisting a wide variety of techniques and materials, the artist moves through genres of abstraction, still life, and portraiture, all with an emphasis on mark making and grounded in gesture and physicality.

Zen Sekizawa is a photographer, director and artist. In 2014, she released her first book, “You and I See Why,” a collection of images that reflect notes written to herself from 2009 to 2014, published by Hesse Press. In 2017, she photographed a series celebrating Japanese American activists in Los Angeles. Sekizawa’s childhood was spent at The Atomic Cafe, a Los Angeles punk rock institution, owned and operated by her family in Little Tokyo.

In 2017, after being commissioned to build tables and chairs for n/naka restaurant, Correa and Sekizawa started MANO YA, a custom object and furniture shop in Chinatown, which represents the collaboration between both artists. Each piece is designed, built, and finished by hand, integrating fine art media, design and classic woodworking techniques, especially inspired by Mexican and Japanese cultural traditions in these fields.

Correa and Sekizawa will help workshop participants to create quilt pieces utilizing print-making techniques such as screen printing, wood blocks and free-form drawing and painting.

When asked why they were getting involved in the Families Belong Together Quilt, they responded, “We feel it is important as artists to share our resources and creative labor with our community of Little Tokyo and other culturally specific communities like Chinatown and Boyle Heights which are all under threat of erasure by gentrification and displacement. We 100 percent oppose racist, immoral and illegal immigration policies.”

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