This poetic installation, Flight: memory and transcendence, is part of a larger body of work developed while I was working with Hapa Collaborative for the Steveson Nikkei Internment Memorial in Vancouver.
In this preliminary work, I led our team to reconceptualize our approach to community engagement. The installation format of this project allowed the community to engage with the process and develop a personal connection to the creation of the memorial. By utilizing a series of 6 simple questions about the community's internment experience, memory, and connection to Steveston, the notecards provided an anonymous space for the community to remember, record, and share their personal histories.
Through this experimental approach to community engagement, we found that there was a clear demarcation of experience between three generations of the Japanese-Canadian community in Steveston.
This work was informed by Philadelphia sculptor Linda Brenner, a former professor at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, whom I worked with to install a site-specific project in Love Park for Design Philadelphia in 2009. In this project, Linda and her collaborator, Judy Gelles, asked a series of questions to the Philadelphia public about their living conditions.
By adapting this work to the specific history of the Japanese-Canadian citizens who were interned during the Second World War, the questions listed on each note provided a space for the community to share their personal experiences as part of a collective work of art.
The form of the installation that was hung in the Japanese-Canadian Cultural Center in Steveson in February 2018 was inspired by the ancient spiritual practice of writing prayer notes on paper and hanging these gifts in the temples for release.
Many thanks to the owner of Hapa, Joe Fry, for trusting in this process and allowing it to take shape.