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Johnson Museum of Art

“Imaging Intolerance: Cultural Differences and Civil Liberties”

The New Student Reading Project event at the Johnson Museum will provide opportunities for students to engage with themes of intolerance, cultural stereotyping, and concerns of multi-ethnic populations encountered in Julie Otsuka’s novel When the Emperor Was Divine. Through discussion sessions with museum staff, students will engage in close observation of original artworks to help them think more deeply about the book’s text.

A special feature of the event is a loan exhibition of paintings and prints by Roger Shimomura, whose art revolves around sociopolitical issues of ethnicity. In his work, Shimomura addresses his and his family’s experience at Minidoka Relocation Center, as well as his own experiences of racial and ethnic discrimination, even though he is a third generation American. The artist views his work not only as recording what happened in the past but as a metaphor of our nation’s continuing reactions whenever there are perceived threats to our way of life.

In addition to Shimomura’s work, students will encounter artifacts and ephemera from Minidoka and other relocation centers; works of art from the Museum’s outstanding permanent collection of Asian art; and a special exhibition “Encountering the Floating World: Ukiyo-e and the West.”

Students will be issued “Art Passports” when they enter the Johnson Museum and will travel to five sites throughout the Museum. New Cornell students are encouraged to actively recognize how they can experience the Museum as a unique classroom, where being in the presence of a primary source such as an artwork can inform the wide range of course assignments they will encounter during their educational journey.

On Thursday, September 19 at 5:15 pm, Roger Shimomura will present a public talk at the Johnson Museum about his work and experiences.