When President Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066 in 1942, the lives of thousands of Japanese Americans were instantly altered. Roger Shimomura, an artist who has taught at the University of Kansas for over 40 years, was one of the people whose life has been drastically influenced by the legislation. His earliest childhood memories are of the internment camp he and his family were sent to when he was a toddler. Recently awarded a USA Ford Fellowship to honor his lifetime of artistic contribution, Shimomura currently has three separate exhibitions traveling around the country. One will be spending a little over a month in Santa Fe, hosted by the art gallery Eight Modern.
The exhibit, titled American Knockoff, features colorful paintings — lively with movement and design — that have an undeniable edge of humor. But like most things in life, there are layers. Take a step back and one might re-evaluate the lightheartedness of the images. “There’s also a lot of pain and agony embedded in the work,” said Shimomura. His artwork is proof of the ability of unique experiences to yield creativity, alter mentalities and change perspectives.