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A mural by Dragon76 in Chinatown. The mural, featured in our second article, is near the home of Christina Yuna Lee who was murdered after being stabbed more than 40 times in her apartment in 2023. Photo: Jake Price for Japan Contemporaries

Special Focus: Reflections on AANHPI Heritage Month

As Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander (AANHPI) Heritage Month draws to a close, we reflect on how to sustain and build on the spirit of inclusiveness and community fostered throughout May. Through art, we will continue to strengthen the AANHPI community by addressing stereotypes and inequities, and promoting understanding and unity.

AANHPI Special Focus Table of Contents:

A Note From the Publishers

National 9/11 Memorial & Museum Honors Naoto Nakagawa & David Lim

On Othering & How Art Can Deconstruct It

A Journey to Discover Japanese Art

Japanese Art: The Measure of its Import in America 

​Japan Contemporaries AANHPI Annual Wrap Up

A Note From the Publishers

By Kyoko Sato, New York

During the recent pandemic, we witnessed a significant increase in violence against Asians, which continues unabated. Sadly, a Japanese pianist Tadataka Unno, dancers, and businessmen have been targeted, some even requiring emergency room care. Additionally, the wife of the US ambassador to Japan has faced verbal harassment.

The latest findings from the fourth annual STAATUS (Social Tracking of Asian Americans in the US) report by TAAF (The Asian American Foundation), released on May 1, 2024, reveal concerning trends. The findings report that only one-third of Americans believe hate towards Asian Americans has risen, a striking 61% of Asian Americans themselves feel this surge in hatred over the past year. Alarmingly, 43% of Americans remain unaware of recent attacks on Asian Americans. Within the last 12 months, 32% of Asian Americans report being subjected to racial slurs, while 29% have experienced verbal harassment or abuse. Due to discrimination and a lack of representation, only 38% of Asian Americans feel a complete sense of belonging, with a mere 18% feeling fully accepted in the US for their racial identity.

Prejudice stems from ignorance. Our focus should be on educating Americans about the richness of Asian cultures.

In line with this mission, I have curated over 30 exhibitions spotlighting Asian art, showcasing 210 artists in New York and launched the publication Japan Contemporaries last year. It's imperative that we strive to make the world a more inclusive better place. As New York serves as a global window, I am committed to continuing this work here. Fortunately, I have been able to assemble an exceptional team for Japan Contemporaries, including Motoichi Adachi and Yusuke Wakata in Tokyo, Jake Price, Jonathan Goodman, Dr. Les Joynes, Masa Hosojima, Joseph Ralph Fraia in New York, and now the esteemed New York gallerist, Miyako Yoshinaga. I hope to welcome many more contributors to join our cause in the future.

By Motoichi Adachi, Tokyo

The center of the world's art, I believe, is still New York. In 2019, the US accounted for 44% of sales by value in the global art market, having held a premium position in terms of the value for most of the last 50 years. New York is estimated to account for up to 90% of those sales, making it the epicenter of the market in 2020 (The NYC Art Market Report by Clare McAndrew, Arts Economics). 

I aim to guide Japanese artists toward reaching for the pinnacle of their dreams, much like a young baseball player aspiring to compete in Koshien in Hyogo, Japan, and eventually aiming for the Major Leagues, following in the footsteps of Shohei Ohtani. My mantra is simple: "Don't settle for mediocrity; take on seemingly reckless challenges!” Through the pursuit of the New York dream, I envision countless revelations and growth opportunities that will enhance artists' lives. Moreover, I firmly believe that the remarkable artworks that emerge from this journey will bring happiness to people's lives.

National 9/11 Memorial & Museum Honors
Naoto Nakagawa & David Lim

By Kyoko Sato & Jake Price

On May 28th, the National 9/11 Memorial & Museum hosted a lecture featuring Japanese artist Naoto Nakagawa and former Port Authority Police Department Lieutenant David Lim, who is of Chinese descent and was working at the towers on the day of the attack. Although from different backgrounds, Nakagawa and Lim were invited in the hope that it would inspire others to share their stories.

In her opening remarks, June Jee, Vice President of Programs for the OCA-NY- Asian Pacific American Advocates said, "The purpose of this evening is to introduce all of us to the museum, to hear our stories, to share our stories...because many of us in the Asian community have stories that we have not told and shared. It's not just the Chinese community, because of Chinatown being so close, but it is of the other Asians across New York City, across New York, across the country."

Mr. Nakagawa (b.1944) arrived in New York in 1962 with only $500 in his pocket. Of that time, he said, " I was so full of expectations, full of excitement. I wanted to be a success as an artist in New York City." With what little he had, he rented a studio on Chambers Street that had a view to the south, where he viewed the rising Twin Towers as beautiful, artificial "Mount Kilimanjaros" as he referred to them.

The towers' architect was Minoru Yamasaki (1912-1986), a second-generation Japanese American architect born in Seattle. Nakagawa said, "In the 60s, it wasn't really a good time for young Japanese to be in America....And so when the news came that this massive great World Trade Center was [going to be constructed] and the architect was going to be a Japanese American—this was my woooow moment, I thought this was great! It was very exciting." The towers undoubtedly had an influence on his art. "I had the pleasure of looking at the Trade Center, going up every day, every day, every day, [there were] different colors." When they were destroyed in the terrorist attack, it was particularly difficult for him. "What I saw was the rise of this beautiful Trade Center, and then the fall of the Trade Center. It was part of my own life."

Nakagawa was mixing paint in his studio near the World Trade Center when he felt the building shake. After his wife called to tell him that a plane had crashed into the Twin Towers, Nakagawa rushed to the roof of the building and saw flames coming from the North Tower. Initially, he was painting beautiful star-shaped moss that he found from the Hudson River valley, but witnessing the tragedy transformed the work. (Description taken from the 9/11 Memorial Museum) "I could not continue to paint the way I wanted to paint, which was this very beautiful, inspiring nature painting. So, I decided to dedicate this painting for the victims, for New York City, and for America. You know, America, I love very much. I've been in America for a long time, over 60 years. And I'm very much attached to this Trade Center. And I'm attached to America."

Ultimately the beauty of nature, with star-shaped moss from the Hudson River valley as its inspiration was transformed into “Stars of the Forest: Elegy for 9/11." The horizontal bands of vibrant red, white, and blue that stretched across the canvas were no longer just colors, but now evoked the iconic symbolism of the American flag. And the shimmering stars that dotted the painting were transformed, becoming poignant representations of the innocent lives lost on 9/11.

Currently, Nakagawa continues to investigate the meaning of human life in his art. His work "193+2" (2020) represents each of the United Nations member countries by their national flowers. "People of the World" (2022) represents all eight billion people on Earth, including A.I. robots. The yellow-and-blue border indicates it was painted in honor of Ukraine.

On Othering & How Art Can Deconstruct It

By Jake Price

When tasked with writing about the role of art during AANHPI month, I was met with skepticism from others who deemed it a frivolous topic amidst the alarming rise in hate crimes and acts of violence against the AANHPI community. However, this perception stems from a fundamental misunderstanding of the significance of art beyond mere aesthetics. Those who dismiss art as frivolous do so because they confuse aesthetic with meaning. In the current climate of heightened discrimination and hate crimes against AANHPI communities (and all who are discriminated against), art serves as a critical tool to combat the dehumanizing depictions and misrepresentations that demean and misidentify.

Over 30 years as a filmmaker, photographer, writer and educator, I have documented the devastating results of what happens when people are misidentified and dehumanized. I have witnessed firsthand the ethnic cleansing against the ethnic Albanian population in Kosovo, documented testimony in Bangladesh on the genocide carried out against the Rohingya, and, more recently, also documented the cultural and physical genocide currently being perpetrated against the people of Ukraine. In every single one of these catastrophic events, there is one deeply disturbing common element: the group that is victimized is first stripped of their identity through the use of forced misrepresentation that deny them personhood—a process of "othering." The othering plants the seeds of hatred in the public consciousness, providing the psychological conditioning that clears a path towards, at a minimum, individual hateful acts and, in the worst-case scenario, mass genocide against an entire people.

A common refrain in this country is that “it can’t happen here,” as if atrocities are only carried out in foreign lands. However, it did happen here. As early as the 1800’s Japanese and Japanese Americans faced widespread discrimination, hostility, and racist stereotyping. Anti-Asian propaganda and cartoons viciously misrepresented those of Japanese descent. The pernicious result was that the seeds of hate were interwoven into the fabric of everyday life. Once othered through propaganda, it enabled legislation that codified their outcast status. Laws were enacted that prohibited Japanese immigrants from becoming naturalized U.S. citizens, while other laws barred Japanese resident aliens from owning land. (A current  and greatly concerning parallel can be found in the the state of Florida that recently passed SB 264, that bars Chinese immigrants, including people who came to the US lawfully as professors, students, employees, and scientists, from buying a home in large swaths of the state. The ALCU is currently suing the state of Florida to have the law overturned.) Public misconceptions fueled by the "yellow peril" propaganda that falsely portrayed Asians and Japanese Americans as an unassimilable threat due to cultural differences, unable to become "loyal Americans" resulting in mandated school segregation against Japanese American children. (How a child might assimilate when they were actively segregated seemed to have bypassed the logic of those making the anti assimilation claims.)

 

This longstanding climate of fear, racism, and legalized discrimination set the stage for the mass incarceration of Japanese Americans after the attack on Pearl Harbor. The mass incarceration could have never happened unless the public was willing to accept it. And the only way the public could have accepted it, was that it bought into the dehumanization that was cultivated over many years. 

In the aftermath of the mass injustice of Japanese American internment during World War II, we can see how the strength of art from the Japanese American community both redefined and combatted misrepresentation, while helping to build this nation's civil society from which all benefit. Two examples of this rehabilitation of identity and strengthening of civil society can be found in the work of Ruth Asawa and George Nakashima. (Both artists have been chronicled in these pages.)


As a Japanese American who was interned during WWII, Asawa's life and art gave voice to this unjust chapter of American history. Her 2002 sculpture "Garden of Remembrance" at San Francisco State University memorializes the internment experience. Just as the seeds of hate were interwoven into everyday life through hate propaganda in the lead-up to mass incarceration, Asawa believed that art should be interwoven into the fabric of everyday life as an antidote to hate and to promote understanding.
Nakashima suffered a similar fate to Asawa when his family was forcibly relocated from Seattle to the Minidoka Concentration Camp in Idaho. In the camp, he made furniture from discarded plywood, the very material of his confinement, to make life more bearable for his family and those he was interred with. 


Following his internment, Nakashima moved to Pennsylvania and began constructing the Nakashima Woodworkers, built mostly in traditional Japanese design. Just as Asawa created her "Garden of Remembrance," George constructed the Nakashima Arts Building, erected in 1967 that is still used for concerts and events for peace and embarked on a project called "Altars for Peace" in the 1980s. In his manifesto he wrote, that he would construct, "six Altars—one for each Continent. It will be a symbol, a token of man’s aspirations for a creative and beautiful peace, free of political overtones; an expression of love for his fellow man. We have become so basically disoriented with our blind faith in science and technology without spirituality, it brought us to our pit of madness." The U.S. Department of the Interior designated the Nakashima property a National Historic Landmark in April 2014.


With so much progress made, and time passed since WWII, the persistently and willfully blind “it can’t happen here” refrain persists. To illustrate how fragile the gains are, we need to look no further than the COVID-19 pandemic when we saw how quickly these deeply held prejudices can be reignited when the former president employed his updated version of "Ur-Fascism." The resurgence of racist rhetoric and scapegoating showed that the forces of othering can quickly be reignited. And once one group is targeted, who will be next?


With these beliefs still lingering and his return to power possible, it is more important than ever to combat stereotypes that other through the robust communication of the arts. (This is precisely why, before any genocide or mass persecution occurs, artists and cultural voices are often among the first to be censored, silenced, jailed or murdered outright.) The oppressors know that art has the power to upend their narratives of "us vs. them," to insist on our common dignity, and to inspire resistance to dehumanization. And this is the vital reason that we must so ardently support, amplify and protect what artists and creative voices have to say in this country and beyond.

Of course, art alone will not stop all the hate crimes or silence the vitriol of people like the former president. But art can, and as we've seen through history, grow so large and impactful that it creates a society-wide environment where mass hate and dehumanization are no longer accepted norms. And it is precisely this robust cultural atmosphere celebrating our shared identity as human beings that was so devastatingly suppressed and missing in places like Kosovo and Myanmar and is exactly what Ukrainians are fighting with their very lives to protect now against cultural and physical genocide.

To foster that same environment of mutual understanding and respect here during and beyond AANHPI Heritage Month is not just about cultural appreciation—it is quite literally about upholding our fundamental human values and identity in the face of forces that would seek to other and divide us. It is a matter of life and death in preventing the very dehumanization that enables atrocities to occur.

A Journey to Discover Japanese Art

By Dr. Les Joynes

Japanese art has influenced audiences around the globe, inspiring painters such as Vincent Van Gogh, Edgar Degas, and Claude Monet to explore new processes and notions of perspective, color, and design. Since the late 19th century, carved woodblock ukiyo-e prints have disseminated through galleries in Europe. With the exception of Dejima, a small European trading colony in Kyushu, Japan was closed from 1639 to 1858. As such, its culture and traditions flourished, excelling not only in printmaking but also in painting, sculpture, and ceramics. Today, Japan connotes a highly complex culture with profound and rich layers of tradition.


I was born in a small Pacific coastal town in Southern California. At times, it felt like we were a million miles from anywhere. But I was fortunate to grow up surrounded by books on Japan as well as Japanese ink paintings (sumi-e) and calligraphy (shodo). During my university studies, I first came to Japan in 1985 for a summer program at Sophia University in Tokyo. My first impressions were the neon canyons of Shinjuku and the casino-like ringing of pachinko parlors near the small family-run ryokan where I lived. After my studies, I traveled through Honshu and Kyushu to visit art collections in museums. During my art studies in London in the 1990s, I was inspired by European and American minimalist sculpture, and I discovered the work of Japanese mono-ha artists Sekine Nobuo (1942-2019), Koshimizu Susumu (b. 1944), and Suga Kishio (b. 1944). For me, these artists tapped into the essence of form, gravity, and grace, inspiring my journey as a sculptor. I returned to Japan to exhibit at a museum in Matsuyama and was introduced to Morimura Yasumasa (b. 1951), whose work explores self-portraiture and the adoption of different personae and identities. I also visited the Benesse House Museum in Naoshima, where I saw for the first time Kusama Yayoi’s Pumpkin, 1994, with its hallucination-inspired repetition of dots revealed in Kusama’s Self-Obliteration, a documentary she produced in 1967.


Awarded the Japanese Ministry of Education and Culture (Monbusho) scholarship in 1997, I returned to Japan as a research scholar in art at Musashino Art University in Tokyo. Musashino,colloquially called “Musabi,” taught a variety of disciplines, including Japanese painting (nihonga), Western painting, ceramics, textiles, as well as architecture, fashion, and design, and for me, it was a space for dialogue with students and faculty on form, material, minimalism, traditional and contemporary art. While in Tokyo, I also worked with the curatorial team for the Taipei Biennial (1998) and became familiar with many Asian artists, including Araki Nobuyoshi (b. 1940), Ozawa Tsuyoshi (b. 1949), Miyajima Tatsuo (b. 1957), Nakayama Daisuke (b. 1968), Suda Yoshihiro (b. 1969), and Yanagi Yukinori (b. 1959). For Art in America, I wrote on the 1998 Ginza Art Space exhibition of Japanese artist Nara Yoshitomo (b. 1959), which featured evil-eyed manga kids with knives and roly-poly dog sculptures wearing Japanese high-rise geta. I also became more familiar with the work of the Gutai group, which was formed in Osaka in 1954. Gutai in Japanese refers to the notion of concreteness or implying clarity, solidity, or physical presence. Gutai artists experimented with unconventional materials and techniques, embracing performance art, installation, and happenings. The iconic "foot-painting" performances of Shiraga Kazuo (1924-2008) were painted with his feet while suspended from a rope.

Another key figure I rediscovered in Japan was Ono Yoko (b. 1933). A pioneer of the Fluxus movement in the 1960s, Ono’s work includes experimental music, performance, and peace activism. I was also inspired by Ohtake Shinro (b. 1955), whose work explores found objects, collage, painting, and sculpture, reflecting themes of memory, identity, and the passage of time. And, speaking of time, the iconic works of Kawara On (1932-2014), both remind us that moments are always fleeting but also mirror Japan’s futuristic lead in digital technology. As art students in London in the 1990s, we began to see exhibitions of the playful and pop-colorful paintings and sculptures of Murakami Takashi (b. 1962), who became known for merging elements of Japanese traditional art with contemporary pop culture. Like Roy Lichtenstein
(1923-1997), Murakami's works blurred the lines between high and low culture, creating a composite of pop art, Japanese manga, and serotonin-driven consumer appeal, especially as he collaborated with the elite fashion brand Louis Vuitton.

Today, Japanese artists continue to explore new ways of making and new mirror to Japanese contemporary identity. The work of Berlin-based Shiota Chiharu (b. 1972) weaves introspective and immersive installations that are suspended within gallery spaces. The monochromatic portraitures of Gokita Tomoo (b. 1969) feature paintings of occluded and distorted figures and surreal scenes, drawing inspiration from vintage magazines, old photographs, and film noir. The lens-saturated deers of Osaka-born Nawa Kohei (b. 1975) combine traditional materials that blur our experiences of seeing an object in multiple real and virtual realities. Kuwata Takuro (b. 1981) represents a shift in Japanese ceramic arts to explore new techniques and embracing notions of imperfection. Katayama Mari (b. 1987) references her own body in her art, using prosthetic limbs and other accessories to explore themes of identity, different-ability, and beauty. The multidisciplinary practice of Tajima Mika (b. 1975) intersects art, technology, and

social dynamics, addressing themes such as labor, consumption, and power. Finally, there are the artists, animators, engineers, mathematicians, and architects of TeamLab (a collective founded in Tokyo in 2001) by Inoko Toshiyuki (b. 1977), who refer to themselves as “ultra- technologists” as they explore various forms of digital technology. And of course, Mohri Yuko (b. 1980), who now exhibits an intriguing bricolage-installation using sound, light, movement, and scent installation at the 2024 Venice Biennale.


Each time I come to Japan, I learn something new, not only about its culture, language, and traditions but also about myself. It is like peeling an onion - it is revealed continuously in layers. And ultimately that peeling of layers, of introspection and discovery is what continues to draw me to Asia. To explore, discover, and learn. As we celebrate Asian & Pacific American Heritage Month, we have the opportunity to explore and discover the multiple layers stories and diverse histories of artists in Asia and of Asian heritage now reaching all over the globe.

 

 

The New York City art world has been, for a long time now, a complex mosaic of differing artists with different backgrounds. East Asian art–work from China, Korea, and Japan–has had its moments of focus and recognition in the States, but most truthfully, interest has been lost to larger visual moments and considerations. This short look at the existence of Japanese art in the present proceeds both by historical quotation, as found in the work of artists such as Isamu Noguchi and Ruth Asawa, and by the focus on new work made this century, still young Japanese-Americans who made use of a complex esthetic partaking both of the past and present now are moving, necessarily, into places of promise that do not overtly reflect Japanese art of the past. We also have the efforts of the immigrant artists of Japan, who often make work influenced by New York’s culture, international but most evidently Western. 

It is clear that both Noguchi and Asawa occupied major places in 20th-century American modernism. Yet their gifts cannot–must not–be separated from their Asian background. Their work is abstract, consistently modern, and apparently in keeping with modernist dictates. Yet the echo, the aura of the art, lends itself to a Japanese point of view. But a questions remains: Has that point of view been erased by a new art language that borrows from everywhere? 

It is important for Japanese modern art to remain close to its extraordinary art history and visual legacy. The question is whether the legacy can support Japanese art as it makes its way into New York, where history counts for very little. Our city needs cultural diversity very much, and to some extent this has taken place–but at the expense of keeping the artist’s own history true. Japanese art will inevitably enrich American culture, but loss will inevitably occur. This loss may enable today’s Japanese art to participate in the American art milieu, but at the cost of losing the strength of even recent outlooks such as the Gutai Movement and Mono-Ha. 

These are theoretical questions: the real issue is determining how might Japanese art take place now. What does it mean to have a Japanese vision, one capable of surviving the eclectic array of influences we face in New York? Does the question even make sense given the overwhelming internationalism of new fine art? How important is Japanese art in America at this point in time? If we agree to mixing backgrounds, the skills we appreciate in Japanese art may well lose their edge. But if we isolate the importance of Japanese art, its strengths occur without a context within which Japanese art might flourish–hopefully, on its own terms. This is not entirely Japanese art’s own responsibility. It is up to America to make an effort to understand cultural depths beyond its pale. 

The complexity of the situation begs another question: How badly does the American art world need new Japanese work? The presence of Japanese art, its reliance on nature, might easily serve as a method of report, but also a warning, regarding the ecological vulnerability of the exterior world. That alone would justify Japanese art’s meaningfulness in a foreign context. 

But the unspoken spiritual life inherent in Japanese ritual and in more than a little of modern Japanese art is an addition many Western artists would find attractive, even necessary. American art, since the advent of abstract expressionism, has always been characterized by its expansive egotism–hardly a term that comes to mind when considering Japanese mind! Maybe we need Japanese art more than we know. Its ability to silently sound the inner needs of both the artist and his audience, often if not always in a language that avoids aggressive assertion, is moving in the extreme. 

So the exchange occurs and is necessary. Japanese art, limited to an island status and a not fully appreciated history, looks for the larger landscape to press the case for contemporaneity. Its influence on New York’s geographical pluralism is memorable, but it receives in turn a visual freedom that leads to outstanding experimentation. Thus, the need of Japan to cull its past for antecedents that, in many cases, result in very new visions. Internationally minded Japanese art may find its best chance in an urban center like New York. The play of intentions here is broad enough to support Japanese art activities. Japan’s need for a platform of support worldwide finds its auguries in a culture so different from itself, a steady vision is needed. But then a steady vision is something Japan has possessed–for a long time. 

Japanese Art: The Measure of its Import in America 

By Jonathan Goodman

​Japan Contemporaries AANHPI Annual Wrap Up

First and foremost, our goal at Japan Contemporaries is to celebrate the contributions that Japanese artists and artists inspired by Japan bring to our lives. Through our interviews, however, themes that touched on the systemic challenges and lack of representation that Asian American and Pacific Islander (AANHPI) artists often encounter in the art world arose, as did painful histories that artists experienced.

By forthrightly addressing these issues, we believe that the community is made stronger through dialogue, and that it is also a way to overcome inequality.

By fostering open dialogue and amplifying diverse voices, we aim to create a more inclusive and equitable art world, where talented artists from all backgrounds have the opportunity to showcase their work and contribute to the cultural landscape. Overcoming systemic challenges and promoting representation is crucial for the growth and enrichment of the art community.
-Kyoko Sato & Jake Price

Naruki Kikita on Inequality in the Art World

In our short film and interview, artist Naruki Kikita laid bare the challenges Asian artists face, stating, "The current art scene is far from equal. Only children from the top 20% of wealthy families can afford the huge tuition fees to attend prestigious art schools, belong to powerful galleries, and have a ticket to success as an artist. Eighty-five percent of the art market is dominated by white males."

Kikita dreams of breaking this status quo and bringing art education and equitable opportunities to all aspiring artists in society. He advises minority artists to avoid excessive self-blame and instead foster solidarity with others facing similar circumstances. "By acknowledging their shared struggles and working collectively, minority artists can strategize ways to dismantle the overarching societal obstacles impeding their success."

The Nakashima Legacy: Art, Craftsmanship, and Peace Building

Mira Nakashima's family, like many Japanese Americans during World War II, faced the injustice of being forcibly relocated and imprisoned in internment camps solely due to their ancestry. Despite this traumatic experience, her father George Nakashima's woodworking transcended that unjust incarceration, ultimately leading to the establishment of the Nakashima Foundation for Peace.

Through her role as Creative Director of George Nakashima Woodworkers and President of the Foundation, Mira Nakashima upholds her father's legacy of masterful craftsmanship imbued with a profound respect for nature and peace. Their story exemplifies how art and design can transcend adversity and discrimination to unite people across cultures in pursuit of a more harmonious world.

 

Manga as a Cultural Bridge

Our second article focused on how manga can bridge disparate cultures. We featured Jessica Luna, an Italian, and Richard Ford III, an African American, who both discovered Japanese culture through TV as children and later incorporated these influences into their art.

This illustrates how art is not merely an aesthetic but can bridge cultures, lessening the othering of people and creating understanding. Through art, people and cultures are understood, and through this understanding, appreciation arises.

Supporting Wajima's Lacquerware Artisans After Disaster

On the first day of the new year, devastating news arrived - another powerful earthquake and tsunami had struck Japan, this time impacting the Noto Peninsula. One of the hardest-hit areas was the town of Wajima, renowned for its exquisite lacquerware traditions that have been passed down over centuries. Tragically, many artisans lost their workshops, factories, and homes in the disaster.

As a publication dedicated to celebrating Japanese art, we at Japan Contemporaries immediately reached out to the artists we had previously featured, as well as others, to raise funds for those affected in Wajima. The outpouring of support was heartening, allowing us to provide vital assistance to the impacted lacquerware artisans.

However, our efforts do not end there. Over the course of this year, we will continue to bring you updates from Wajima and the ongoing recovery efforts. We will also share ways for our readers to continue supporting this historic town and its cherished lacquerware traditions as they rebuild from this catastrophic event.

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Kyoko Sato, Editor-in-Chief, has written for Art Review City, Shukan NY Seikatsu, New York Standard on Gallery Tagboat and ONBEAT. She founded the Asian Programming at WhiteBox, and served as its director from 2018 to 2021.

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Motoko Adachi, Editor-in-Chief, Motoichi Adachi is a broadcast writer who has led the Japanese television industry. He has worked on mega hit TV shows such as "SMAPxSMAP” and "Odoru! Sanma Goten!”. In 2008, he won the 35th International Emmy Award for "Takeshi Kitano presents Comaneci University Mathematics," a program he created, and walked the red carpet in New York with director Takeshi Kitano, who appeared in the program. 

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Jake Price, photographer, contributes to National Geographic, The New Yorker, the BBC, and The New York Times. After the 3/11 triple disaster he helped raise ¥3,139,500 ($42,000) for tsunami victims in collaboration with Kodansha's 3/11 Photo Project. His immersive web doc on Miyagi, "Unknown Spring," was awarded by the World Press Photo Foundation, and his documentary on Fukushima, "The Invisible Season," premiered at the New York Film Festival.

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Dr. Les Joynes (US, b 1963) is a contemporary art scholar based in New York. A graduate of Central Saint Martins, Goldsmiths in London and Musashino Art University, in Tokyo, he lectures at universities on artistic research and intercultural collaboration. Recipient of the Fulbright-Nehru Academic and Professional Excellence Award, he was Fulbright Senior Scholar on South Asian Art at the Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts in New Delhi. While living in Japan he served on the curatorial team that produced the Inaugural Taipei Biennial “Sites of Desire” exhibition, and has produced multi-media exhibitions and projects in museums and art centers in Asia, Europe and the Americas. He currently examines the identities of individuals of Japanese descent born in Brazil. 

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Jonathan Goodman,  has long written about the art scene of New York. His primary area of expertise lies in East Asian art, with a notable emphasis on fostering collaborations and deep engagements with Japanese artists. His published appear in XIBT Magazine, frontera digital, Brooklyn Rail, WhiteHot Magazine, Tussle Magazine, Arte Fuse, and his interviews are featured in Sculpture Magazine.

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