Roger Shimomura uses painting to explore the relationships and contrasts between Japanese and American cultures. A major theme is the discrimination experienced in the U.S. by Roger (a third-generation American) and other Japanese- and Asian-Americans.
Born in Seattle in 1939, Roger and his family were forced into a Japanese internment camp during WWII, first in Puyallup, WA and then in Idaho, where as a 3-year old, he was surrounded by guards and high-security fences. Following the war, he completed school in Seattle and studied commercial design at the University of Washington, receiving a BA in 1961. He received an MFA in painting at Syracuse University in 1969 and joined the faculty of the University of Kansas, rising to become a University Distinguished Professor in 1994. The experience of life as an Asian-American in Kansas led him to paint about culture, discrimination, and ethnic stereotypes.
Shimomura has had over 100 solo and 200 group exhibitions in the US, Canada, and Japan. His work is included in both private and public collections, including the Smithsonian Museum of American History, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Denver Art Museum, the Seattle Art Museum, and the Whitney Museum of American Art (New York). His personal papers are being collected by the Archives of American Art at the Smithsonian Institute in Washington, D.C.
On display on the second floor of the Allen Center is a series of six Shimomura lithographs, called Mistaken Identities. These images are motivated by photographs and paintings from different sources dating from the time of the Japanese internments during World War II.
Art in the Allen Center