FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE - February 1, 2024


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JANM to Present J.T. Sata: Immigrant Modernist on March 15, 2024

LOS ANGELES, CA – The Japanese American National Museum (JANM) will present J.T. Sata: Immigrant Modernist from March 15–September 1, 2024. Curated by Dennis Reed, the exhibition comprises sixty photographs by Sata, along with family artifacts from his time in America’s concentration camps and reproductions of his paintings and drawings. Sata was a charter member of the Japanese Camera Pictorialists of California, a modernist photography group in Los Angeles during the 1920s and 1930s. All of the photographs were donated to JANM by the Sata family.

James Tadanao Sata (1896–1975) came to the United States in 1918. He was better educated than most immigrants, and his heritage was samurai. Despite his education and elevated social status, he worked a variety of menial jobs, including as a servant and custodian. However, Sata had artistic ambitions, which led him to become an amateur art photographer. He photographed in and around Little Tokyo, at the sea, and in the mountains of Southern California. He also created modernist portraits and abstractions. These works were among the most adventurous photographs made in America at the time, and they were exhibited and published internationally during the 1920s and ’30s.

At the onset of World War II, Sata was forced to abandon photography since cameras were deemed contraband for those of Japanese heritage. During the forced removal of Japanese Americans, the Sata family lived in a horse stall at Santa Anita temporary detention center. Later, they were moved to the Jerome concentration camp in Arkansas and the Gila River concentration camp in Arizona, where Sata made drawings and paintings of life in camp.

More information about the artist is available on the exhibition’s resources page and JANM’s YouTube channel. Watch the recording of the 2020 public program, J.T. Sata: A Japanese Immigrant in Search of Western Art, and a short profile of the artist, Making Waves | J.T. Sata, created by JANM’s Frank H. Watase Media Arts Center for the Museum’s 2016 exhibition, Making Waves: Japanese American Photography, 1920–1940.


About the Japanese American National Museum (JANM)

Established in 1985, JANM promotes understanding and appreciation of America’s ethnic and cultural diversity by sharing the Japanese American experience. Located in the historic Little Tokyo district of downtown Los Angeles, JANM is a center for civil rights, ensuring that the hard-fought lessons of the World War II incarceration are not forgotten. A Smithsonian Affiliate and one of America’s Cultural Treasures, JANM is a hybrid institution that straddles traditional museum categories. JANM is a center for the arts as well as history. It provides a voice for Japanese Americans and a forum that enables all people to explore their own heritage and culture. Since opening to the public in 1992, JANM has presented over 100 exhibitions onsite while traveling 40 exhibits to venues such as the Smithsonian Institution and the Ellis Island Museum in the United States, and to several leading cultural museums in Japan and South America. JANM is open on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Friday–Sunday from 11 a.m.–5 p.m. and on Thursday from 12 p.m.–8 p.m. JANM is free every third Thursday of the month. On all other Thursdays, JANM is free from 5 p.m.–8 p.m. For more information, visit or follow us on social media @jamuseum.