As witnessed in his latest show, An American Knockoff, seasoned artist Roger Shimomura’s work walks the line between political statement and absurdity. A product, he says, that spawns from spending his formative years trying to find a sense of place.
“Most of my work is based around growing up being a person of color,” the 73-year-old tells SFR, adding that all the things that “bothered” him as a child continue to do so today.
Not having any prominent Asian-American figures in pop culture to look up during his childhood, he looked inside his own family for inspiration.
“I was driven by wanting to be like my three uncles, they were all very successful graphic designers in Seattle,” he reminisces.
Taking an artistic page from their book, he began to draw all the bountiful items of consumerist America that he dreamt of having, but that his parents could not provide on a limited income.
“There’s where art set into my psyche.”
And so, Knockoff displays thirteen works, all self-portraits, which reflect Shimomura’s love/hate relationship with what is considered to be authentically American.
“[It’s] buying into that kind of brash consumerism that characterizes our society and trying to make something positive of it,” the internment camp survivor says, adding that, for him, the cathartic process was a mixture of “acceptance with skepticism.”
A lifelong seeker of acceptance, Shimomura found just it in pop art when the movement was at its zenith. “Anything that was in our visual landscape was fair to use,” he muses. “We all bought into the idea that to execute a serious still life, you had to have wine bottles in it, and pop taught us that it was ok to use a coke bottle instead."
An American Knockoff: Artist reception, 5-7 pm Friday, Aug 10. Free. Eight Modern, 231 Delgado St., 995-0231