From left: Susu Attar, Kuniharu Yoshida, Dan Kwong and Tina Takemoto
On Saturday, July 28, Susu Attar, Dan Kwong, Tina Takemoto and Kuniharu Yoshida publicly unveiled their creative projects as part of the inaugural LTSC +LAB Artist Residency Program at the National Center for the Preservation of Democracy in Little Tokyo. The event marked the conclusion of a three-month residency in Little Tokyo for the four California-based artists.
During this residency, the Fellows immersed themselves in the Little Tokyo community by living at the historic Daimaru Hotel on First Street North. Guided by the overarching theme of “Community Control and Self-Determination,” the artists collaborated with Little Tokyo-based non-profit organizations to promote community engagement and to explore creative place-making strategies through their artistic practice.
The public presentation featured short films, photographic exhibits, and a staged reading of Dan Kwong’s theatrical piece “Tales of Little Tokyo.” Click here for pictures from the event.
In a unique collaboration with LTSC, local arts organizations co-hosted the Fellows as well as provided them with staff support, studio and workspace. Participating organizations included: the Japanese American Cultural & Community Center, the Japanese American National Museum, Sustainable Little Tokyo and Visual Communications.
The +LAB Artist Residency Program is funded by a Community Development Investments (CDI) grant from ArtPlace America. LTSC was one of six organizations selected for the program, which explores how community-based organizations—not previously focused on arts and culture—can make the arts a sustainable part of their work.
Artists interested in participating in the 2019 Artist Residency should expect an announcement this fall.
Susu Attar is a multimedia artist born in Baghdad and raised in Los Angeles. Her works draw from life in both cities, exploring the space between diasporic memory and the documentation of loss. By highlighting the visual vocabulary of early home photography, the work distinguishes itself from today’s selfie culture. Utilizing paint to remind the viewer that what they see is not reality but an object, her work aims to move away from the false sense of actuality that photography often transmits and toward the possibilities of imagination. In April 2017, Attar curated “ICONIC Black Panther: Los Angeles” at Gregorio Escalante Gallery in LA’s Chinatown for SEPIA Art Collective. The exhibition featured works from over 50 artists exploring the 50-year history of the Black Panther Party. Attar received her Bachelors of Arts in Painting and Conceptual Information Art from San Francisco State University in 2007.
Dan Kwong is an award-winning performance artist, director and teacher who has been touring his solo multimedia performances since 1989. He has performed in over 40 states in the US and in England, Mexico, Canada, Hong Kong, Thailand, Cambodia, Indonesia, Korea, China and Japan. His book “From Inner Worlds to Outer Space: The Multimedia Performances of Dan Kwong” was published by University of Michigan Press. He has been deeply involved in Little Tokyo with three major art projects: participating as artist/designer in “The LT Open” miniature golf course exhibition April 21-29; performing “What? No Ping-Ping Balls?,” his solo show about his Nisei mother Momo Nagano, at JANM’s Tateuchi Democracy Forum on June 1-3; and participating in this pilot program of the LTSC +LAB Artist Residency. Kwong was also a Resident Artist at 18th Street Arts Center in Santa Monica and serves as Associate Artistic Director for Great Leap.
Tina Takemoto is an artist and scholar whose work explores the hidden dimensions of same-sex intimacy and queer sexuality for Japanese Americans incarcerated by the US government during World War II. Takemoto has presented artwork nationally and internationally, receiving grants from Art Matters, Fleishhacker Foundation, James Irvine Foundation, and San Francisco Arts Commission. Takemoto has exhibited and performed at Contemporary Jewish Museum, Asian Art Museum, Oceanside Museum of Art, GLBT History Museum, New Conservatory Theatre, Sabina Lee Gallery, Sesnon Gallery, SF Camerawork, SOMArts, SFMOMA and the Vargas Museum. Her films have screened at Ann Arbor Film Festival, Outfest, CAAMfest, MIX New York Queer Experimental Film Festival, Hamburg Queer Film Festival, MIX Milano, Rio Gay Film Festival, Seoul’s International Women’s Film Festival, and Queer Forever! Film Festival Hanoi. In addition, Takemoto serves on the board of Queer Cultural Center and is co-founder of Queer Conversations on Culture and the Arts.
Kuniharu Yoshida is a Japanese calligrapher and hip-hop dancer who teaches Calligraphy and Japanese language at the Fuji School at the Japanese American Cultural and Community Center. He collaborates with artists to combine sublime arts from both traditions, merging the traditional with the contemporary. Respect between cultures is the foundation of Kuniharu’s unique work, designed to intertwine not just art but also audiences. He finds art is a great way to increase understanding amongst people of varied backgrounds while communicating one’s culture in a simple and easy to understand manner. He will also be part of the Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum’s Uneo Artist Project “Calligraphy Appreciation 1-2-3” (a tentative title) in November 2018. Kuniharu has been involved in various Little Tokyo events such as Nisei Week.
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