Judy Shintani’s art focuses on remembrance, connection, and storytelling. She makes assemblages, produces installations, creates performances, and facilitates social engagement activities to generate visual stories that bring vital issues to light. She offers participants ways to become art collaborators by interacting with her work and inviting feedback.
As a Japanese American Artist, she has focused much of her art career on researching and creating works that give voice to internee memories and hidden stories about this time.
In the 1940s my family’s only crime was having the face of the enemy. They were incarcerated for four years at Tule Lake Segregation Camp along with 120,000 others of Japanese descent.
Making art about this injustice has been a healing and meditation for myself and my family, ancestors, culture, and America. It brings to light unspoken and unreleased issues about this discriminatory history. Why do I continue making art about something that happened 75 years ago? Central American families are still unjustly imprisoned in detention centers in Texas. Refugees and immigrants are still discriminated against all over the world. African Americans are racially profiled and killed by police. Recently politicians suggested that immigrants should be interned like the Japanese Americans were in the ’40’s. Engaging younger generations about past wrongdoing while drawing parallels to current injustices, helps them better understand their world and choose how to navigate it.
The time and focus to think about my work and how I engage with the public was invaluable. I contemplated the future of my art career – taking art community facilitation out into the world. The challenges of doing a project outside of my stomping grounds, enlightened me to issues of history, stakeholders, politics, connections, expectations, and realities. Conducting my storytelling ritual in the SFAI gallery allowed me to put on a first rate event. SFAI’s reputation lent my event credibility, and helped drive attendance.
SFAI140 challenged me to step up to the plate. Distilling my thoughts down to 140 seconds took my presentation skills to a whole new level. What a great opportunity to be on the stage with some real pros and to meet the other presenters.
The connections I made during the residency will stay with me forever – bringing to light new career opportunities and friendships.