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Judy Shintani’s Artwork Connects Past, Present Injustices

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Judy Shintani’s “Dream Refuge” for imprisoned children. The children on the cots were held in American concentration camps and boarding schools, and are now in their 70s and 80s. Many of them are now protesting the imprisonment of children at the border. The exhibition includes recorded stories by Hiroshi Shimizu, Sadako Kashiwagi, Mimi Sasaki, Kix Kato, Robert Nakamura, Lawrence Matsuda, Ruth Ichinaga, Belinda Arriaga, Ione Mad Plume, Lorene Sisquoc, and Karen Ishizuka.

SANTA CLARA — Judy Shintani’s exhibition on view at the Triton Museum of Art, 1505 Warburton Ave. in Santa Clara, through Jan. 26, connects the Japanese American WWII experience with the plight of migrant children today.

Shintani has a deep, personal connection to the history of Japanese American incarceration. Her father’s experience as an imprisoned youth were a large part of her family’s historical narrative and has had a profound impact on her work.

For this exhibition, Shintani draws on this personal experience to create an installation of drawings of children sleeping on mattresses, reminiscent of the many children forcibly removed from their homes and imprisoned in deplorable conditions. While personal, this work draws connections between the tragic history of the forced removal and incarceration of citizens of Japanese ancestry with Native American boarding school experiences and the current treatment of asylum seekers and others at our southern border.

Shintani also presents stories as part of the exhibition, weaving remembrances of those who endured the incarceration with those of children enduring policies of family separations and similar experiences of incarceration today.

Detail from one of the cots.

This exhibition is the first of a two-part exhibition series supported by the California Civil Liberties Public Education Program focusing on the history of Japanese American incarceration, in particular as it informs current events.

Shintani’s art focuses on remembrance, connection, and storytelling. She makes assemblages, produces installations, creates performances, and facilitates social engagement activities to generate visual stories that bring critical issues to light. As a Japanese American artist, she has focused much of her art career on researching and creating works that give voice to internee memories and hidden stories about this time.

Judy Shintani

Shintani has exhibited internationally and throughout the U.S. She speaks about Asian American art and historical trauma, most recently at San Francisco State University, Springfield College in Illinois, University of Pittsburgh, and the Center for Contemporary for Art Santa Fe.

She was an artist-in-residence at the Vermont Studio Center, Santa Fe Art Institute, and Creativity Explored for Disabled Adults. Shintani founded the Kitsune Community Art Studio in Half Moon Bay and is an instructor at Foothill College. She is a member of the Asian American Women Artists Association, the Northern California Women’s Caucus for Art, and WEAD.

A lunchtime lecture with the artist will take place on Wednesday, Dec. 11, from 12 to 12:45 p.m. Attendees are asked to pack their own lunches.

Museum hours: Tuesday-Sunday, 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Closes early at 3 p.m. on Tuesday, Dec. 24, and Tuesday, Dec. 31. Closed Wednesday, Dec. 25, and Wednesday, Jan. 1.

Free parking and free admission. For more information, call (408) 247-2438 or visit http://tritonmuseum.org.

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