Roger Shimomura is an Asian American artist who depicts the challenges of being “different.” He has gained a massive following and even had his work shown at the Smithsonian Museum of Art.
His Art is very political. His interest in social issues most likely stems from the fact that during World War II, he and his family were sent to a Japanese internment camp in Idaho.
The first painting of the two women depicts the segregation of Japanese Americans during World War II. The Asian woman is behind barbed wire, making it clear that she is not free. In the second painting he infuses post-Pearl-Harbor-attack propaganda into a nice family photo. The propaganda after Pearl Harbor depicted all Japanese people with yellow skin, big teeth, squinted eyes, and so on. By placing this character next to the rest of the family, we can see the comparison between reality and harsh stereotypes. The third painting was his largest painting and it is a knock off of the historical painting called “Washington Crossing the Delaware. In Shimomura’s painting he presents himself as America’s Founding Father, replaces George Washington’s colonial troops with samurai warriors, and he remakes the body of water they cross to resemble San Francisco Harbor with Angel Island (the processing center for Asian immigrants) in the background. The fourth painting depicts Shimomura literally fighting Asian stereotypes.
I think that he approaches these social problems with humor while also making sure there is a more serious underlying message in his paintings. I believe this method is successful because the paintings the painting are entertaining and educational.
By: Sophia Fotos, blog #7