Recommended by Julia Raban
Jen Graves wrote that Roger Shimomura’s 2009 exhibition Yellow Terror contained “art that he hopes will lose its power.” Unfortunately, his work (paintings crowded with snarling Japanese stereotypes, prints about American concentration camps, and collections of racist objects) has become intensely relevant. Shimomura’s pop-art social critiques are highlighted alongside Lawrence Matsuda’s poetry in Year of Remembrance, a show that fits an impossible amount of history, writing, video, and visual art (centered on Shimomura's and Matsuda’s own experiences of internment) in what is essentially two short hallways. There are maps, photographs, pamphlets, shooting targets of “Jap” caricatures, a piece of fence from a Seattle detainment center, and a collage of 1942 articles with titles like “Jap Evacuation Blow to B.C. Lawns, Flowers” and “Use of Grounds to House Japs Won’t Halt Fair at Puyallup.” There’s also a binder stuffed with current news clippings. In this moment, at the Wing Luke, stare straight at an ugly American truth. Remember that Roosevelt is not a perfect liberal hero and that a busy schedule is not an excuse for apathy. Feel the fear it takes to know that we can do better—we must do better—than the World War II–era citizens concerned with flowers and the Puyallup Fair.