Art of Resilience and Identity

Aug 28, 2016 to Oct 30, 2016

What does the past mean to us today and how does uncovering hidden stories help us shape a future of fairness and inclusion?

That is the principal question posed by Japanese American artist Judy Shintani in her exhibition for Peninsula Museum of Art.  Shintani’s work addresses the imprisonment of Japanese Americans during World War II, bringing to light memories, repressed emotions, and current feelings about this period in U.S. history.  Her unique sculptural pieces include reclaimed wood and barbed wire, illuminated lanterns, deconstructed kimonos and more. 

“In a world where discrimination continues to be widespread, there is a danger of repeating the past. Alarmingly, the American Incarceration Camps of 70+ years ago have come to the forefront as a solution to the immigrant and refugee ‘crisis’ now facing the U.S.” - Judy Shintani

Pledge Allegiance

Her newest series Illuminations expresses the personal reflections of the Sansei— the generation born to those who were incarcerated.  Shintani surveyed them, asking questions such as "How does this history affect your life and what would you like to ask your family members about their experience?"  She quickly received over 200 responses. It became apparent that this 3rd generation of Japanese Americans has much to say on the topic.

Shintani states “Making art about the Incarceration is healing – for my family, my ancestors, my culture, and me. But this kind of injustice still occurs for many in the United States, and in the world. It is not just a singular event that happened many years ago. The shadow side of us exists, and fear makes us forget that we are all one. We must find ways to understand and connect to one another and art is a powerful way to do it.”

Judy Shintani was born in Ames, Iowa to a mother from Honolulu, Hawaii and a father from Poulsbo, Washington. Her father’s family lost their oyster farming business when they were taken to Tule Lake Incarceration Camp in the 1940’s. Her mother saw the bombers flying overhead on their way to attack Pearl Harbor. Her family ended up in the Central Valley of California where her mother was the first Asian American elementary school teacher in Lodi, and her father worked in television broadcasting. Judy grew up in a small and mostly Caucasian town, before moving to the Bay Area for college. Years later she began exploring her roots and family history.


Deconstructed Kimono

Shintani has exhibited throughout California, the Pacific Northwest, and Southwest. She was recently an artist in residence at Santa Fe Art Institute and at Creativity Explored in San Francisco. She was awarded the Peninsula Arts Council 2012 Award for donor support for her Coastside Artists for Doctors Without Borders project. 

In addition to making art, Shintani owns and runs the Kitsune Community Art Studio in an old dairy barn in Half Moon Bay. She is a member of the Asian American Women’s Artist Caucus and on the board of the Northern California Women’s Caucus for Art. Judy has a Masters in Transformative Art from JFK University, Berkeley and a Bachelor’s of Science in Graphic Design from San Jose State University.


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