Densho’s Artist-in-Residence program supports emerging artists to create artwork about WWII Japanese American incarceration history. The aim of the residency is to help educate general audiences about Japanese American WWII incarceration; connect this history to current instances of racial injustice and inequity; and to foster healing and dialogue around historical memory and intergenerational trauma.
Our 2021 artists were Lauren Iida and Molly Murakami.
Lauren Iida (she/her) was born in Seattle and holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from Cornish College of the Arts (2014). Her main medium is intricately hand-cut paper, often incorporating layers of ink washed paper and focusing on negative space and shadow play. Iida shares her time between Seattle and Cambodia, exhibiting her work, creating public art installations, and mentoring and representing emerging contemporary Cambodian artists through Open Studio Cambodia, an arts collective that she founded. In the U.S., Iida is represented by Seattle’s ArtXchange Gallery. Her work has been exhibited at numerous venues throughout Washington state and collected by the City of Seattle Portable Works Collection (2016), King County Public Art Collection (2019) and the Washington State Arts Commission (2020). Iida has been commissioned to create temporary and permanent public art by The City of Seattle, The City of Shoreline, Washington State Convention Center Addition, The Office of Arts and Culture/Seattle Department of Transportation, The City of Bellevue, Plymouth Housing, and Sound Transit.
“I am very pleased and honored to be selected as one of Densho’s 2021 Artists in Residence. Densho’s extensive digital archives have been an essential part of my own exploration and research about the experiences of my Japanese American family members before, during, and after WWII. Densho’s historical photos, oral histories, and educational tools have influenced my artwork enormously over my art career and provided endless inspiration for exhibitions and public art projects. Thank you for this opportunity.” —Lauren Iida
Lauren’s culminating project, “Citizen’s Indefinite Leave,” is on view at Seattle’s ArtXChange Gallery from January 6 through February 19, 2022. Learn more and plan your visit.
See the Memory Net Remembrance Project featured in the Seattle Times here.
Molly Murakami (she/her) is a cartoonist and storyteller from Minneapolis, Minnesota. She has worked with organizations such as Bleacher Report, Candlewick Press, and Pollen Midwest, among others. In her personal work, she is often drawn to themes of family, shared histories, and identity. Murakami’s first self-published graphic novel, In Your Path, explores intergenerational trauma amidst her relationship to her late grandfather Yoshiteru, a Manzanar survivor, and much of her short works are similarly autobiographical in nature.
“I am immensely grateful and humbled to be named one of the 2021 Densho residents. It is no secret that our lives today are as fraught with tension and racial division as they were many years ago, and more and more I consider reacting to these issues my gift and duty as an artist and storyteller. In my practice, I strive to lend my voice to causes that our community and I must always be passionate about; I hope this residency will allow me to use my work to educate and promote understanding and healing for our diaspora and others. Densho has been so useful to me in my research and I am honored to give back to both Densho and our community in my own small way.” —Molly Murakami