Cycle: Voices Remembered
Talismanic object installation, Detail
© Dawn E. Nakanishi, 1993
Dawn E. Nakanishi
Identity, spirituality, community and locality are holistic elements in my work as an artist and educator. I am Sansei, which means third generation in the United States. My maternal and paternal grandparents came to this country during the early part of the century and settled in California. The disruption of World War II, racism and politics caused them to be interned in the camps in Arizona, New Mexico, South Dakota and Arkansas. Collectively, all eight of their children left the camps to attend college with scholarships. My parents met and married while attending the University of Illinois. My father was an aerospace engineer whose career brought our family back to California in the early '50's. My mother continues to work as a reference librarian, and has been one since 1950. I was born in Long Beach, California in 1957. We moved to the Northern California Bay Area in 1960 because Lockheed was developing into the first technical industry in the region.
Growing up in California has been a very important aspect in my development as an artist. The natural beauty of the coastline, the redwood forests and growing up in a temperate climate has heightened my awareness of how nature affects my work and spirit. Being on the west coast is also special because it is a part of the Pacific Rim. The close proximity to Asia is reflected in the multi-ethnic make up of California. There is a strong Asian presence here economically, spiritually and culturally. Our organization, Asian American Women Artists Association (AAWAA) exists because we have a community and a spiritual need to be together as a collective. Although our group is not a religious organization, we would all agree that we participate because we have a spiritual need as Asian women artists to share community and support.
All text and artwork are © Dawn E. Nakanishi.