Art lovers, history buffs and Japanophiles alike are lining up to see the ROM’s latest art installation. It’s called Being Japanese-Canadian: reflections on a broken world, and it’s bound to make you pause and reflect—about things like history, identity and the injustices still going on in our country, and the world, today.


The face of this series is Lillian Michiko Blakey’s Reiko, Alberta 1945. Rife with symbolism, the barbed wire at the painting’s forefront can’t help but catch your eye. It’s a literal and figurative representation of the imprisonment endured by Japanese-Canadians during this unfortunate time in our history.


Not only were families taken from their homes and forced to live in overcrowded internment camps, but they were trapped in their own skin by the duality of their identity. Japanese-Canadians were prisoners to politics and to the time in which they lived.


What’s to see?
Look out for Lillian Michiko Blakey’s other works, Taking The Nancy, British Columbia 1942 and Canadian Born, Alberta 1943, as she “expresses the pain and injustices her family endured” through her art.


David L. Hayashida is a ceramic artist who “confronts racism and its reverberations throughout generations” in Low tea in ’43(BRITISH Columbia) still boils.


Check out Emma Nishimura’s etchings and photo-based print sculptures in her collection of “memory, loss and meaning”: An Archive of Rememory, Collected Stories, and
Constructed Narratives.


Steven Nunoda’s sculpture and installation work is a “striking memorial to internment sites in BC.” His work, entitled Ghostown and Ladder to the Moon, is not to be missed.


Set your curiosity free with Laura Shintani’s project, Emissaries of Mission ’42. Her goal is to ensure this history of internment is “known and understood by younger generations.”


Norman Takeuchi uses his paintings to reflect on “the conflicting duality of life in internment camps and a sense of ‘Japaneseness’ imposed on him by others.” Don’t miss his work entitled Interior Revisited.


In Jerry, Army Cadet and Continuum: A Cake History, Marjene Matsunaga Turnbull explores history, her family’s story and “the anger and hurt of racism” through ceramic sculptures.


Yvonne Wakabayashi’s textile piece, Tribute, honours her parents’ “strength and resilience” during the internment era. The installation officially opened last month and will run until August 5. So there’s still time to ponder this multi-generational response to the exile, dispossession and internment of more than 20,000 Japanese-Canadians during the 1940s.



Until August 5, 2019

Cost: Included with regular admission

Royal Ontario Museum (Sigmund Samuel Gallery of Canada)

100 Queens Park, Toronto |