NAMBA, A Sabbatical Exhibition

Emily Momohara

September 25 - October 23, 2020



Associate Professor Emily Hanako Momohara returns from sabbatical where she worked on a long-term documentary film project about the life of May Namba, a Seattle based Japanese American civil rights leader.

Namba’s adult life began with racism, war and incarceration. However, through perseverance and a quiet leadership, Namba lived to be 97, much of which was full of activism, service and advocating for others. Through Namba’s story, the film will chronicle the 1941 bombing of Pearl Harbor, Namba’s firing from the Seattle School District, the Japanese American WWII incarceration experience, redress, civil rights advocacy, US history education and a younger generation inspired to continue the movement.

Although Covid19 created many obstacles to shooting new footage, Momohara will share snapshots of the Namba project. Photographs, film stills and clips from the in-progress documentary short will be displayed in the Convergys Gallery.

Coinciding with the exhibition and the Hank Willis Thomas billboard All Li es Matter displayed on the Art Academy’s Over-the-Rhine campus, Momohara’s Never Again is Now: Child Incarceration For Freedoms billboard is displayed through November 9. The billboard was originally created as part of the 2018 For Freedoms 50 State Initiative. For Freedoms was founded in 2016 as the first ever artist-run Super PAC for creative civic engagement, discourse, and direct action.

Never Again is Now: Child Incarceration is a historic image of two children, Irene and Hiroshi at the World War II Japanese American Incarceration site Minidoka in Idaho. In 1942 President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066 to incarcerate all person of 1/16 Japanese descent or more into prison camps. Two-thirds were American citizens by birth including Momohara’s Great-Grandparents, Grandmother, Aunts, Uncles and the Namba film’s subject May Namba. Momohara overlaps the historic image with the text “Never Again Is Now” to point to the incarceration of Latinx families at the US-Mexico border today. She believes that those who have not been convicted of a crime, especially children, do not belong in jails.

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