Certain events can have a major impact that will last a lifetime. The forced removal of the Japanese Canadians – my family was among them – from the west coast into the B.C. interior in 1942 is one of those events. My troubled feelings regarding that disordered time have remained unfaded along with my ambivalent attitude towards being Canadian of Japanese origin.
Some years ago, as a way of coming to terms with my ethnicity, I began integrating into my predominantly abstract paintings images from traditional Japanese woodblock prints to illustrate the concept of duality – of being Japanese and Canadian. This became, and continues to be, the focus of my work. There are also references to familiar Canadian icons such as the moose and grain elevators. Jarring compositions, juxtaposing abstract forms with images from old Japan, reflect the feelings of dissonance that stem from the memory of difficult times and the blending of two very different cultures. Recently, the abstract forms have become more rigorously integrated with the woodblock images, an indication perhaps of a coming-to-terms with my ethnicity and even a celebration of my Japanese heritage. The paintings represent an uneasy search for harmony and balance between the two worlds but ultimately they are a celebration of my Asian heritage.
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