OS Projects presents Friend or Foe, an exhibition by Kevin Miyazaki. An artist reception will be held on Saturday, May 14 from 1 to 3 pm.
In the spring of 1942, President Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066, forcing 120,000 Japanese Americans to leave their homes for internment camps located in desolate areas, typically deserts. Miyazaki’s father’s family was part of this forced migration, spending several years incarcerated in military-style barracks in Wyoming as well as the high desert of California.
Friend or Foe plumbs the artist’s family history to consider what it was like for members of the Japanese American community—the majority of whom were U.S. citizens—to be uprooted from their homes and sent to live in cramped, communal quarters within a harsh landscape surrounded by barbed wire. The exhibition braids together a range of lyrical and evocative works: window silhouettes of migratory birds and Japanese war planes speckled with constellations, reimagined Boy Scout merit badges, photos of Japanese glass buoys that have meandered across the Pacific Ocean, and the floor of an internment camp cabin delineated with sheets of glassine. From the works’ interactions emerges the observation that sacrifice and patriotism have taken many forms in our nation’s history.
Though the narratives contained within Friend or Foe are personal, they speak to experiences shared by all Americans around immigration, assimilation, migration and discrimination—and, ultimately, to the successes and shortcomings that comprise the American story.
About the Artist
Kevin J. Miyazaki is an artist and photographer living in Milwaukee, WI. His artwork examines issues of identity, memory, migration and community, often through the lens of the Japanese American community. He has exhibited his work at museums, art centers and galleries including the Griffin Museum of Photography, Haggerty Museum of Art, Hyde Park Art Center, Jewish Museum Milwaukee, Madison Museum of Contemporary Art, Museum of Wisconsin Art, Portrait Society Gallery and Warehouse Gallery. Miyazaki’s editorial publication clients include The New York Times, AARP, Smithsonian, Penguin Random House and HGTV.
Image: composite image of window vinyl decals by Kevin Miyazaki, 2022