Much of my work could be characterized as
being a blend of art photography and photojournalism. Having
been a professional photojournalist for more than 17 years, I have used
photography not only to think critically about the world around me but also to
give voice to people who otherwise wouldn’t have one. I have used art photography as a way to
explore my internal landscape, the place where my soul resides. Much of my personal work has been
autobiographical in nature.
As a resident of the United States and an immigrant from Japan, I have lived half my life in each country. My identity has changed as I have assimilated to the new culture. With my exposure to the world, both as an artist and a photojournalist, my assimilation has accelerated. I often feel as though I am a foreigner in this new land while simultaneously feeling like a stranger in the old. I constantly grapple with the notion of belonging, identity and diaspora.
My quest to explore those notions drives much of my work. Being Pulled, a visual autobiography, explores the notions of mortality, childhood memory, diaspora and identity, vacillating between past and present, old land and new one, life and death. This project was named by the late Larry Sultan, an artist and teacher, who kindly gave me advice on the project and who has influenced me to pursue domestic photography as a genre.
As an issei (first generation Japanese immigrant), I am drawn to Asian American history. Out of this interest came Images of the 442nd, a combined photographic and oral history project that features Japanese American WWII veterans and their families. The project honors the continuing legacy of Japanese American WWII veterans, who fought hard against Nazi German forces on the front lines of Europe in order to prove their patriotism, while their families were back in the United States and confined to internment, away from their homes and livelihoods. It explores not only the notions of identity and belonging but also those of justice and legacy.
I have also chronicled the Portland art community by photographing local artists for exhibition and for The Oregonian. My strong curiosity about what fuels the creative impulse continues to inspire this ongoing project.
My own narrative, as revealed in my photographs, is at once extremely personal and unavoidably common. I think many people can identify with the ideas I explore, and their inherent complexity. I am creating a body of work that not only encourages people to reflect on their own lives, but also awakens their appreciation of the beauty and wonder that memories have the potential to create.