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Latest Works By Tomiyama Taeko Exhibited at Dittmar Gallery

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December 27, 2005 | by Judy Moore

EVANSTON, Ill. --- Some of painter and printmaker Tomiyama Taeko’s recent works will be featured in the Dittmar Memorial Gallery’s winter 2006 exhibition “Remembrance and Reconcilation” on Northwestern University’s Evanston campus.

The Jan. 3 to Feb. 12 exhibition, and a 6 p.m. opening reception at the gallery on Thursday, Jan 5, are both free and open to the public. The exhibition is co-sponsored by the Program of Asian and Middle East Studies (AMES) and the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences at Northwestern.

The Dittmar exhibition will highlight Tomiyama’s serigraphs (a color print made by the silk-screen process and printed by the artist personally) and collages (an art form in which bits of objects, such as newspaper, cloth, etc., are pasted together on a surface in incongruous relationship for their symbolic or suggestive effect).

Tomiyama’s work deals with the themes of war and imperialism, beginning with her own life experiences during the past 85 years, as a girl in Japanese-controlled Manchuria, and then in wartime and postwar Japan. She asks viewers to remember the suffering of those whose lives were destroyed and whose stories were “silenced by history,” particularly wartime forced laborers. She has been active in bringing to light the suffering endured by thousands of women forced into sexual slavery by the imperial Japanese military during the Pacific War.

Drawing on multiple histories and artistic traditions, mostly Asian, but also Scytho-Siberian (a phrase that refers to central Asia, including Siberia, northern China and Mongolia, and the mountain region of Central Asia, at least as far as Iraq) her work imaginatively travels the world.

In addition to her painting and printmaking, Tomiyama also has collaborated with musician and composer Takahashi Yuji, to create multimedia slide presentations from her artwork. The Dittmar exhibition will present some of her most recent works, reconstructed around the theme of “remembrance and reconciliation,” including two of these collaborative projects -- “A Memory of the Sea,” which focuses on gender and forced sexual labor -- and “Harbin: Requiem for the Twentieth Century,” a meditation on the attitudes that protect perpetrators from recognizing their own cruelty.

Two related talks have been scheduled on the Evanston campus:

Rebecca Jennison, professor of women’s studies and comparative culture at Kyoto Seika University, Kyoto, will lecture on “Gender, Geography and Memory in Tomiyama Taeko’s Requiem for the 20th Century” at 5 p.m. Monday, Jan. 9, at University Hall.

Yuki Miyamoto, visiting assistant professor of religious studies at DePaul University, will talk about “Fire and Femininity: Fox Imagery in Japanese Folklore” at 5 p.m. Monday, Jan. 16, at Harris Hall, Room 108.

The Dittmar Gallery is located on the first floor of Norris University Center, 1999 Campus Drive, on Northwestern University’s Evanston campus. During the winter exhibition, the gallery will be open from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily. For general information call (847) 491-2348.