At First Light: The Dawning of Asian Pacific America
May 25 - October 20, 2019
A co-production of Visual Communications (VC) and the Japanese American National Museum, At First Light: The Dawning of Asian Pacific America is a multi-media exhibition that explores and celebrates the emergence of a politically defined Asian Pacific American consciousness and identity.
The exhibition chronicles the transformation of the un-American categorization of “Oriental” to the political identity of “Asian Pacific American” that rejected racist stereotypes, stood up for human rights, recovered lost histories, and created new cultural expressions. The exhibition draws from hundreds of thousands of photographs and more than 100 videos in the collections of VC, the first Asian Pacific American media organization in the country, which formed in Los Angeles in 1970 to capture and cultivate the newfound unity that was Asian Pacific America. In the present-day climate of xenophobia and racial profiling, At First Light seeks to strengthen current resistance and resolve by evoking the legacy of Asian Pacific American activism.
Kaiju vs Heroes: Mark Nagata's Journey through the World of Japanese Toys
September 15, 2018 - July 7, 2019
In California in the 1970s, Mark Nagata was living an all-American childhood when an aunt and uncle serving on a US military base in Japan sent him a box filled with some of that country’s most popular toys. They were kaiju and heroes, and these gifts inspired him to zealously collect vintage Japanese vinyl toys over the course of his entire life.
Kaiju translates to “strange creature” in English but has come to mean “giant monster” referring to the creatures like Godzilla and Mothra that inhabited the postwar movie and television screens of Japan. The advent of these monsters brought about the creation of characters to combat them—hence the emergence of pop-culture heroes like Ultraman and Kamen Rider.
Kaiju vs Heroes: Mark Nagata’s Journey through the World of Japanese Toys showcases hundreds of dazzling vintage and contemporary Japanese vinyl toys, providing a feast for the eyes and the imagination.
Born in Hiroshima, Japan, Sadako Sasaki was two years old when the atomic bomb was dropped on the city. When she was twelve, she contracted leukemia and was hospitalized. One of her roommates at the hospital told her about the Japanese belief that anyone who folds one thousand cranes would be granted a wish, so Sadako began folding cranes with the hope of recovering from her disease. Sadly, although she folded 1,300 cranes, she died on October 25, 1955.
Incorporating hundreds of objects, documents, and photographs collected by the Japanese American National Museum, this exhibition chronicles 130 years of Japanese American history, beginning with the early days of the Issei pioneers through the World War II incarceration to the present.