There are only 3 days left to view Who Am I? In Search of an Answer. Lillian Michiko Blakey's thought provoking art exhibit at the Aurora Cultural Centre www.auroraculturalcentre.ca is on until Saturday April 30. Lillian is a member of the O.S.A and an award winning Canadian artist.
Gallery hours are Tuesday to Saturday from 1:00 to 4:00 and admission is free.
I had the priviledge of being the guest curator for this exhibit and I have copied my notes to give you some background information below.
Lillian Michiko Blakey is a Canadian artist who combines her aesthetic sensibilities with a personal vision that speaks to us in an intimate way. The exhibit, Who am I? In search of an Answer, observes the world through the artist’s eyes and invites the audience to bring our experiences to this journey. The result is an open, honest dialogue in which we can all participate.
The search for identity and acceptance is a universal part of the human condition. For Lillian Michiko Blakey, the forced removal of Japanese-Canadians from the west coast during World War 11 has influenced her whole life and the way in which she perceives herself.
In an essay, Is it Japanese Artist or Artist Who is Japanese? Lillian talks about her own struggle with issues of identity. Growing up in Toronto in the 1950s, Lillian denied all things Japanese. Her parents avoided close community contact with the Japanese community because of the discrimination they had experienced in pre-war British Columbia. Her father decided that the best way for the future was to assimilate. One of her regrets is that the loss of her Japanese heritage has resulted in her not being able to pass on the Japanese language and traditions to her children and grandchildren.
However, through Lillian’s visual images, she is able to give a voice to the past experiences of her parents. Their story is a part of Canadian history that she reclaims so that it will not be lost or forgotten. The artist’s voice now includes all the possibilities for future generations. Her own grandchildren have diverse cultural backgrounds. Lillian’s granddaughters were given Japanese middle names at birth and as one of Lillian’s grandsons got older, he insisted that he get a Japanese name also. There is hope in the image titled “We are Japanese too!’’
“ It is only in the past 10 years that I have, through my art, come to terms with who I am. I think that an exhibition which voices concerns about identity issues can help other people, too, in their search to find themselves.” Lillian has come to accept that she is the “product of two cultures, neither wholly of one nor wholly of the other, and therefore her work, which is the experience of her particular view of the world is bound to be different from the art of her ancestors.
This exhibit clearly emphasizes Lillian’s strong aesthetic sensibility. The artistic vision of this distinguished artist has resulted in making deliberate choices with regard to the variety of styles she employs. The use of pop art , mixed media collage, Japanese paper and photographs gives the artist flexibility in expressing her concepts. Photographs add to the immediacy of the experience for the viewer. The audience can respond to images of real people and this reinforces the idea that the content of this exhibit is not a work of fiction. Lillian Michiko Blakey has not only shared her personal vision but she has also given the audience a rare opportunity to get an insight into her process as an artist by including preliminary sketches of some of the pieces.
The Aurora Cultural Centre is pleased to bring you this thought provoking and exquisitely crafted exhibit by this highly respected Canadian artist. A past president of the Ontario Society of artists, Lillian Michiko Blakey is a leader in promoting arts and culture in our community. She is currently involved in a project whereby emerging artists and established artists learn from one another through the making of collaborative works.
We thank Lillian Michiko Blakey for opening the dialogue through her artwork so that we can better understand each other.
Guest Curator and Gallery Coordinator
Aurora Cultural Centre