Born 1939 in Seattle, Washington
Following the attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066, which forced Japanese-Americans into internment camps such as the one in Idaho where a two-year-old Roger Shimomura and his family were sent after being officially designated enemy aliens. The artist, who studied at Syracuse University (M.F.A., 1969), became a Professor of Painting at the University of Kansas and in the 1980s began exploring his family's wartime experiences, notions of the "pure American," and what he describes as the absence of a "positive marker for Japanese-American identity" in contemporary media. Blending together the aesthetics of Pop Art and comic book illustrations with imagery appropriated from 18th century Japanese ukiyo-e woodblock prints, Shimomura's paintings and prints explore cultural stereotypes and icons. The artist juxtaposes comic book super heroes and Hollywood starlets that represent the white man and woman to their Japanese counterparts, the Samurai and the Geisha. All live in suburban America where both white picket fences and translucent Japanese shoji screens co-exist along with Kentucky Fried Chicken and sushi, the barbecue and the rice cooker, and the T-shirt and the kimono. Shimomura worked with Gary Day on a woodcut during his residency (October 26-27, 1996). UNO student Jaime Hackbart, and Belgium exchange students Veerle Stevens and Hans Vandyck helped with the printing.

American Neighbors
1996; color woodcut on Rives BFK; image: 21 x 32 1/8 (53.34 x 81.28), sheet: 30 x 40 (76.2 x 101.6); edition of 25