Roger Shimomura, a third-generation Japanese American, creates paintings and performance pieces blending an ironic mixture of Japanese imagery and American popular culture. A native of Seattle, he and his family were removed to an internment camp for Japanese Americans during World War II. Over the past decade, much of Shimomura's work has been devoted to exploring the emotional and psychological hardships of the internment experience, based on the diaries of his grandmother. More recently, however, he has taken a more lighthearted approach to the serious themes of xenophobia, racism, and cross-cultural interface.
Jacquelyn Days Serwer, with contributions by Jonathan P. Binstock, Andrew Connors, Gwendolyn H. Everett, and Lynda Roscoe Hartigan American Kaleidoscope: Themes and Perspectives in Recent Art (Washington, D.C.: National Museum of American Art, 1996
Roger Shimomura was born three years before President Roosevelt's executive order mandated the internment of 120,000 Japanese Americans during World War II. When the family was released, they lived for a time in South Chicago, but returned to Seattle in 1945, settling in Nihonmachi, a district of Japanese American residents (Roger Shimomura: Return of the Yellow Peril, exhibition catalogue, Cheney Cowles Museum, 1993). The artist attended the University of Washington and earned a graduate degree from Syracuse University. Shimomura's paintings, which combine American pop culture images with Japanese woodblock prints, are inspired by his own experiences of racism and by the diaries that his grandmother kept over a period of fifty-six years. He began teaching at Kansas University in 1969, where he was legendarily tough on his students. Shimomura retired in 2004 after thirty-five years in Lawrence.