Japanese American Artist
Artists usually have a peculiar way of designing the artwork, which is often influenced by their life experiences. Roger Shimomura is a typical example of the one. Shimomura is a Japanese American artist who was born on June 26, 1939 when the Japanese were attacking the US in the Pearl Harbor and participating in World War II. The period was characterized by political upheavals that forced Shimomura and his family into an internment camp in Puyallup. Shimomura later attended the University of Washington, where he studied commercial design. Shimomura grew up in the US, which became his adoptive country, and was subjected to a series of discriminations and other sociopolitical issues. His formative experiences and Japanese heritage spurred Shimomura to create his theaters, pantings, and prints and primarily concenrate on depicting the issues related to sociopolitical discrimination, stereotype, and racism. The paper seeks to discuss how Shimomuras artwork evoke aesthetic emotions, outline how Shimomuras art was influenced by being a Japanese American, and the ways how the same level of skills, talent, and insight as those of Shimomura can be handled.
Shimomura's artworks are emotional and passionate as they explore a theme of discrimination and bondage experienced by the third generation Americans, Japanese, and other Asian Americans. Many of Shimomura's artworks send expressive and sensitive messages to me as well as to other audience. He succeeds in creating a simply outstanding paintings and prints with plain and bright colors. Additionally, Shimomura captures my sentiments through his pop art style. The pop art appeared to be more imaginative in avoiding a direct attack. Hence, when addressing crucial issues of racism, Shimomura chooses to deliver his message by confronting and using boldly pointed tableaux .
The subject of racism and slavery is sensitive, and Shimomura managed to draw a picture that narrates these ordeals. The pictures evoke compassion and frightening feelings as some images show the brutality of the US officials. Shimomura appeared to be speaking his mind through images, which displayed the oppression suffered by the Japanese in the US. Some paintings reveal bloody and vibrant scenes of warfare between the Japanese and the US in the World War II. In the paintings, the Japanese Americans are portrayed as hopeless since the future is indiscernible. They realized they could not change the situation but still strive to adopt the new environment. To create such images, the artist chooses to use dark paintings to express a depression of the Japanese community; and my mood darkens whenever I encounter Shimomura' pictures painted dark.
Moreover, Shimomurass artistic presentation induces a feeling of admiration and interest about the pictures. Appealingly, Shimomura's art pieces are magnificent and reflect the Japanese culture. He achieved this by incorporating the hybrid of pop and ukiyo-e types of the Japanese art and style. Additionally, I noticed Shimomura joined the irreverence funk and the impudence of pop to capture the feelings of his audiences. The theme of stereotyping is captured in a hyphenated cultural group, such the African Americans and the Chicanos. For instance, Shimomura's works on Betye Saar possess the element of stereotypical kitsch pieces and imagery of black images, such Little Black Sambo and Aunt Mamie. Nonetheless, through the aesthetic representation of the past, which appears distant, I can encompass the creative imagery in the present.
Depiction and symbolism instilled an exquisite feeling as it creates an imaginary picture in my mind. Shimomuras pictorial representation focused on depiction and symbolism to enhance its effect on the audiences. Being an Asian also implants a sense of belongingness in me due to its tangibility and strong metaphoric conception. The artist achieves such an effect by imitating the appearance of iconic objects. I noticed that many of Shimomura's paintings were crafted to resemble the natural and manmade features. Additionally, some of the paintings could have an exact resemblance to the iconic Japanese leaders and warriors. The resemblance of the picture helps to depict the relativity of the intended message as well as create the imagery to instill feelings on the targeted group.
The sythesis of two cultures is visible in his artwork. Shimomura's artwork mainly revolve around the Japanese culture and only a little around his American life. Shimomura artwork is believed to have been influenced by his experience and the diaries his grandmother kept at the camp. Since ancient times, dairies have been a highly regarded form of Japanese literature. Shimomura's grandmother is a typical representative of the Japanese heritage, and her diary was a valuable source of information as she had experienced a different form of culture. The dairy contained a description of weather patterns, domestic tasks, and other despairing information that revealed a hidden anger. His grandmother also provides Shimomura with a perfect blend of the Japanese and American interactions. Additionally, her dairy contributed a lot to many of Shimomura's artwork as they appeared to be filled with broad understanding of the Japanese culture. As much the diary gives a glimpse of Japanese life inside the internment camp, the paintings give a strong impression of how they felt in the camp. Therefore, the paintings can be attributed to Shimomura's grandmother, even though she did not participate directly.
However, Shimomura was born and grew up attending school in the United States. Despite the fact that he abandoned the appropriation of the traditional Japanese woodblock prints, the newly adopted style had much to borrow from the Japanese style. The new style is based on the American platform but the representation communicates the Japanese heritage. An artist's pieces of work have a tendency of reflecting their culture, personality, and life experience. Going through his major paintings, I noted that the images communicate his personal life experiences as well as his encounters with family and friends as Japanese Americans. However, the paintings are mainly focused on highlighting the Japanese culture in the American setting. For instance, in one of his works, he paints a lady using chopping sticks instead of a fork to eat a sausage. A chopping stick is a Japanese cutlery used for eating whereas sausages are popular American food. Thus, it portrays a blending of the cultures as a result of assimilation culture exchange in the 1960s. Unsurprisingly, Americans, American Japanese and other Asian people are able to understand or relate to his works.
Another example of blending is in the Great American Muse 27, the paintings of 2015. Shimomura paints an image of the Superman being straddled by a geisha. The intended message is to provide a prevue of the notion of miscegenation. Another image shows Warhol's Liz fornicating with a fat, green-skinned Japanese man. Shimomura is influenced to an extent of using the ideal Japanese men and women from woodblock prints and pairng them alongside the idealized men and women from the western culture cartoons and films. Shimomura continues to borrow strongly from the Japanese history various items, such as artifacts, western domestic trappings, ukiyo-e figures, and cartoon characters. Such a trend in his creativity identifies him with Japanese people who are known to like an imitation of the natural features when designing something to enhance creativity and uniqueness.
There were instances when Shimomura was prompted to incorporate American content to elaborate his artwork. For example, he chose to use American icons, such Dick Tracy and Superman, to express the features of the dilemma of the American citizens of Japanese descent. Sometimes he was obliged to employ purely Japanese content to represent and express the memories of his family and fellow Japanese. For instance, he included characters, such as warriors, courtesans, and actors from Japanese section to represent the modern figures.
Shimomuras skills, talent, and insight were exemplary and admirable by other artists. He had a planned mode of presentation based on the major themes, such as racism, stereotyping, and discrimination. The paintings successfully portrayed religious imagery of the past and depicted it with the traditional stereotypical ideas of the present. However, if I had the same skills, talent, and insight, I would have produced my artwork with an aim of commercialization. For a commercial product, I would develop my themes and style of painting to expand the market unlike Shimomura, who concentrated on a narrow theme and a specific content that revolved around the Japanese Americans. If he created art for a commercial purpose, the market was likely to be poor because the target customers would be the Japanese and the Japanese Americans only. However, exploring similar themes, I could choose to address the African American community as they may become a broad topic, which would have expanded my creativity. The African Americans suffered racism, discrimination, and stereotyping. With an opportunity to attend school with African American students and those from other Asain countries, it is easy to witness or reveal all kinds of experiences of others and depict them. Thus, I think the idea of commercializing my paintings is feasible if to extend the market.
Alternatively, I would use the talent to express the theme of love, which is easy to communicate through paintings. Shimomura also tried to bring the aesthetic value of the original Japanese culture despite the fact that the American influence slightly corrupted it. However, in the end, the artist concentrated primarily on the negative themes and events that unfolded during World War II and ignored the beauty and love that existed within the community. The paintings on the subject of love would offer an aspect of nostalgia and erase the bad memories captured in the paintings of discrimination. Through love, I could portray the beauty and magnificence of Japanese culture. My paintings on the subject of love would concentrate on the iconic love story in the Japanese community. Research states that paintings on the theme of love are filled with more value than the other paintings. Additionally, the subject of love is universal, and this tends to stimulate creativity.
Every event the artists experience becomes indispensable part of life and determines the masters art style. Shimomura's utilized the challenges he faced and channeled it into his talent and skills. All Shimomura's pieces of art present a vivid memory in a narrative and storytelling form, which evokes various kinds of emotions in the audiences. Shimomura was passionate about his artwork due to being influenced by his experiences in the American schools, camp, and his grandmother dairies. Shimomura's arts have aesthetic values and represent the beauty and culture of the Japanese people. Importantly, the Shimomura's artwork achieved its objectives as it makes the audiences understand the impact of discrimination. Until today, Shimomura's artwork continues to be passed from generation to generation as they reflect the similar contemporary situation in the world.