With the history of Hiroshima, and US and Japanese relations at the forefront of international news, an upcoming exhibition at the Bowdoin College Museum of Art, will shed important light on the ties between these two nations.
Opening in early 2017, the BCMA exhibition will showcase approximately forty drawings created in the mid-1950s by Japanese school children from Hiroshima.
The drawings grew out of an art exchange program between children in Santa Fe, N.M., and in Hiroshima that was organized in the early 1950s by the Japanese artist Chuzo Tamotzu.
The show, to be on view from January 26 to April 17, 2017, will be researched and curated by Bowdoin students.
The project will focus on the history of the drawings exchange, its long-term significance for the young artists who took part, and its context within the career of Tamotzu.
Born in Japan but living in Santa Fe at that time, Tamotzu recognized the value of strengthening ties between the country of his birth and his new home in the wake of World War II and focused his personal efforts on the expressive capability of young people.
Through the program organized by Tamotzu, drawings by students in Hiroshima and by students in Santa Fe were sent to their exchange partners in the other country.
The Japanese drawings depict a festival of the arts, local neighborhoods and gardens, and children at play. Efforts are underway to track down the works made by the American students.
Originally exhibited in New Mexico in the mid-1950s, the Japanese student drawings are now on loan to the Bowdoin College Museum of Art from a member of Tamotzu’s family.
The special exhibition, of these works will be accompanied by a web-based resource, a short publication, a symposium, and other public programming.
“These drawings have a great deal to teach as about the past, and also have the potential to enable us to continue to make cross-cultural connections today,” said BCMA Co-Director Frank Goodyear.
Active research, initiated by the Japanese-American artist Yukiyo Kawano, is now underway to identify the adults who took part in the project as children. At this time, three of the grown student artists from Hiroshima have been located.
A team of Bowdoin students will actively participate in this research, working in Hiroshima, Washington, D.C., New Mexico, and at the College. A key goal will be to find more of the project’s participants in both countries to learn more about what this meant to them and their families and community.
“We are extremely proud to be able to support original research by emerging scholars into this historic trove of drawings of international significance, and to be able to share them with a broad public,” said BCMA Co-Director Anne Collins Goodyear.