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October 14 Words, Writers, and Southwest Stories: Kenjiro Nomura: Artist, Prisoner, Citizen

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‘Words, Writers & Southwest Stories,’ a speaker series of the Southwest Seattle Historical Society, is excited to announce that it is hosting Barbara Johns for a live Zoom presentation on Thursday, October 14 at 6:00 PM. Johns will deliver a presentation “Kenjiro Nomura: Artist, Prisoner, Citizen,” based on her book Kenjiro Nomura, American Modernist: An Issei Artist’s Journey. Registration is required.

Born in Japan, acclaimed Seattle artist Kenjiro Nomura (1896–1956) came to the United States as a child of ten, received artistic recognition by age twenty, and in the 1930s became the best-known artist of Japanese descent in the Northwest, his artwork widely exhibited regionally and nationally. Along with more than one hundred thousand Japanese Americans from the West Coast, Nomura was incarcerated during the war but continued to paint, leaving a visual record grounded in place and circumstance. In postwar years he developed a new abstract style that brought him recognition once again.

In Kenjiro Nomura, American Modernist, Barbara Johns presents Nomura’s life and artistic achievement within their historical context. Her account depicts Seattle as a stronghold of prewar Issei artistic activity, and Nomura’s work as providing a meaningful contribution to the history of American art. The book is generously illustrated with artwork tracing Nomura’s entire career. Click HERE to learn more or to purchase a copy of Kenjiro Nomura, American Modernist.

Barbara Johns is an art historian, author, and curator. She holds a doctorate in art history from the University of Washington. Her scholarship in recent years has focused on Issei, or immigrant-generation Japanese American, artists in Seattle. She was formerly the chief curator at the Tacoma Art Museum and previously held curatorial positions at the Seattle Art Museum. She is the author of several books on Issei artists: Paul Horiuchi: East and West (2008); Signs of Home: The Paintings and Wartime Diary of Kamekichi Tokita (2011); The Hope of Another Spring: Takuichi Fujii, Artist and Wartime Witness (2017); and now, Kenjiro Nomura, American Modernist, released this month in conjunction with an exhibition at the Cascadia Art Museum in Edmonds. Barbara is the curator of the exhibition Witness to Wartime: The Painted Diary of Takuichi Fujii, which opened at the Washington State History Museum in 2017 and is touring nationally. It will conclude at the Wing Luke Museum in 2025.

Registration is required. Registered participants will be emailed a link to the presentation on the date of the event. Please register for this event by filling out the form below:

This program is made possible by the support of our partner The Seattle Public Library and our sponsors 4Culture, Luna Park Cafe, Alki Beach Academy, and HomeStreet Bank.

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