Yellow Terror

During his tenure at the University of Kansas, Roger Shimomura recently explained, “I met a farmer who asked me what I was and why I spoke English. By then, I’d gone through that conversation so many times as one of the few Asian faces in the Midwest.” A third generation Japanese-American and Seattle native who as a child was interned with his family during World War II, he explores such mistaken notions of identity and ethnicity in “Yellow Terror: The Collections and Paintings of Roger Shimomura.” (The 70-year-old artist, who often shows at Greg Kucera, lives today in Lawrence, Kansas.) The exhibit is full of appropriated racist caricatures—Japanese depicted with severely slanted eyes and sickly yellow skin—and the latest anime imagery. Shimomura’s self portraits superimpose his face over cartoon icons like Sailor Moon and Astro Boy. Also on display is his collection of WWII-era ephemera accrued via eBay: salt-and-pepper shakers shaped like benign Japanese archetypes, newspaper cartoons with headlines like “How to Spot a Jap!” (It claims you can detect the enemy by wide spaces and calluses between their toes from wearing wooden sandals.) The Pop Art style of the show hardly masks its political content, however. As Shimomura said on opening night, “I was strangely attracted to the idea of creating art out of something that I hate.” ERIKA HOBART

Tuesdays-Sundays, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Starts: Sept. 11. Continues through April 18, 2009

 
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