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Of Local Interest: A New Historical Exhibit By Chicago’s Japanese American Service Committee (JASC)

February 21, 2007

Thanks to my friend Mike Courtney for this notice:


Chicago, IL – The Japanese American Service Committee of Chicago (JASC) proudly presents Origins of Now: ReBuilding Community, an exhibit featuring historical photographs and contemporary art works that explore the forcible internment of Japanese Americans during World War II and the untold story of the post-War resettlement to Chicago made by 30,000 Japanese Americans.

Origins will be the first opportunity for a broader audience to learn about the Chicago Japanese American experience, their challenges and their success in building a community.The showcase event of the JASC’s 60th Anniversary year, Origins is a project of unprecedented vision and scope that presents the Chicago Japanese American community in a way that has never been done. Other exhibits about the Japanese American experience have examined the wartime internment while the story of the Chicago resettlement has largely been ignored.

Origins will place a focused lens on this significant chapter of Chicago history while celebrating the achievements of themetropolitan Chicago Japanese American community. Origins is particularly timely considering the post-9/11 climate ofAmerica. With the government violating civil liberties in the name of national security, and questions of patriotism and national loyalty being posed to ‘profiled’ communities, Origins forces us to ask “have thingsreally changed?”

Additional parallels to the current political environment can be made between the Japanese American post-War resettlement experience and the resettlement of survivors of the Katrina disaster, and how race continues to play a significant role in how a community’s needs are recognized and addressed.

The Opening Ceremony for Origins of Now: ReBuilding Community will take place on Saturday, March 10, 2007 at 10 a.m. at the JASC, located at 4427 N. Clark Street,Chicago. Following the opening ceremony will be an open house starting at 11 a.m. that will highlight the artistic and cultural/heritage programs offered by the JASC. Featured performing artists include the Fujima Ryu of Chicago Japanese classical dance troupe and JASC Tsukasa Taiko as well as demonstrations/workshops by the Tohkon Judo Academy, the largest judo school east of California. Other demonstrations will be presented by JASC’s origami (paperfolding), sumi-e (ink painting), ikebana (flower arranging), and tai chi instructors.

Origins is presented by a multi-organizational collaborative including the innovative Chicago Arts Partnerships in Education (CAPE), who facilitated the creation of original artworks by students from Chicago’s Northside College Preparatory High School and Mark Sheridan Math & Science Academy to be included in the exhibit. Also working with the JASC are noted cultural arts presenter AsianImprov aRts Midwest and the Chicago Japanese American Historical Society. Origins is curated by Jane Kenamore, CA, MA of Kenamore & Klinkow and JASC Archivist Deborah Mieko Burns, CA with exhibit design by Leah Kadamian and Michael Tanimura of Silver Image Creative.

The Opening Ceremony will be free and open to the public. For more information, visit or call 773.275.0097. Origins of Now: ReBuilding Community will run from March 9, 2007 – June9, 2007.

Celebrating its 60th anniversary, the Japanese American ServiceCommittee of Chicago (JASC)originally served the needs of the Issei and Nisei (Japanese immigrants and their American-bornchildren) who left World War II internment camps to resettle in Chicagoand start new lives. As the needs of the community have changed over the years, so, too, have the programs and services provided by the JASC. The JASC is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profitcommunity-based organization. The mission of the Japanese American Service Committee is to preserve and raise awareness of Japanese American culture and heritage, and promote the physical and spiritual well-being of Japanese Americans and the greater multicultural community in theMidwest.

The JASC would like to thank the following funders for their support of Origins of Now: ReBuildingCommunity: The Illinois Humanities Council, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Illinois General Assembly, the National Endowment for the Arts, the Japanese Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Chicago Foundation, the Japan Foundation of New York, the Illinois Arts Council and Linda Murakishi Whitted.


I should add that the JASC’s exhibit opening comes almost 65 years to the day after President Franklin Delano Roosevelt signed executive order 9066. That order created internment camps for Japanese Americans. The Chicago Tribune recently reported on an observance of that day at a Chicago-campus of DeVry University. – TL


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