IKI Breath

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IKI: Breath

February 26 - April 18, 2020


Art Exhibition

Lillian Michiko Blakey | Bryce Kanbara | Newmarket Old Town Hall (460 Botsford Street)
Serpa and Community Galleries | FREE | All Welcome

Tuesday & Thursday 10 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. | Wednesday, Friday & Saturday 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Closed Mondays, Sundays, and Statutory holidays.

Check www.newmarket.ca/OTHexhibits for closures due to private events

IKI: Breath brings together works by Japanese Canadian Sansei artists Lillian Michiko Blakey (Newmarket) and Bryce Kanbara (Hamilton). This exhibition gives insight into Japanese Canadian history while embracing Canada's goal towards a welcoming multicultural society. The exhibit emphasizes a desire for Canadians to be culturally responsible, adaptable, and inclusive. It represents both artists' shared passion for education, community, collaboration, and building foundations of acceptance and belonging for everyone in our society.

Shadow Project

Bryce Kanbara, Shadow Project, you me gallery, Hamilton, 2018.JPGIn addition to the exhibit at Newmarket Old Town Hall, Bryce Kanbara's Shadow Project will be located at the Riverwalk Commons from March 28 – April 18, 2020. Due to the nature of the project, participation is weather permitting. The Shadow Project commemorates the lives lost in Hiroshima and Nagasaki during the atomic bomb dropping in 1945. Originally performed in 2006, Bryce has enacted this project annually in Hamilton and taken it to other cities such as Toronto and Cienfuegos/Havana.

The project is a self-initiated public art performance that invites the community to participate by creating simple but powerful chalk outlines. Participants lie down and have the outline of their body traced on the ground to visually represent the "shadows" of those who have perished in the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings.



Related Events

March 7, 2020
Opening Reception: IKI: Breath

1:30 to 4:30 p.m. | Newmarket Old Town Hall | 460 Botsford Street |
Artist talks snap'd Auditorium | Reception Serpa Galleries | FREE | All Welcome

Japanese Canadian artists Lillian Michiko Blakey and Bryce Kanbara, reflect on their ethnic identities and cultural diversity, exploring Japanese Canadian history while embracing Canada's goal of being a welcoming multicultural society. Then enjoy light refreshments and explore the galleries.

April 4, 2020
"Our Place" gathering with Lillian Michiko Blakey and Bryce Kanbara

1 to 3 p.m. | Newmarket Old Town Hall | 460 Botsford Street |
Guest speaker Snap'd Auditorium | Guided tour Serpa Galleries | FREE | All Welcome

Join us for a unique and inspiring experience as the artists help us to gain a greater understanding of intercultural dialogue and why it has the power to break down barriers.Take the conversation downstairs afterwards and join the artists for insight tours of the exhibition. If weather permits, join us as we walk to nearby Riverwalk Commons to participate in Bryce Kanabara's interactive Public Art Experience: Shadow Project.


Lillian Michiko Blakey

IMG_2943.jpegLillian Michiko Blakey is a visual artist, author, and retired educator living in Newmarket. Her work is personal, narrating generations of her family's story through various media and techniques. Blakey brings to light the lived complications, contradictions, and uncertainty of being Japanese Canadian. Only through artistic exploration and the retelling of her family's history, has Blakey reconciled her feelings and relationship with her own perplexing identity. Important to her work are themes of understanding and connection, through which Blakey expresses the need for strong foundations of acceptance and belonging for everyone. 

Recently, she was one of eight Japanese Canadian artists in the exhibition Being Japanese Canadian: reflections on a broken world at the Royal Ontario Museum (2019). This exhibit explored the repercussions of the Japanese Canadian internment in WW11 on succeeding generations. The Japanese Canadian story was told through art as an important part of Canadian history.

As an educator, Blakey was co-author of Our Wonderful World (1995), which was the first educational reading series for K to 3 which empowered children from all cultures by focussing on inclusion of artists and writers from diverse cultures.

Blakey is a past president of the Ontario Society of Artists, which was founded in 1872. Her work can be found in the Government of Ontario Art Collection and the Nikkei National Museum in Burnaby, British Columbia, as well as in private collections in many countries. 

In 2020, her work will be included in an exhibition at the Canadian War Museum.

More information: www.blakeyart.ca


Bryce Kanbara

Bryce Kanbara.jpgHamilton based visual artist, curator, and activist Bryce Kanbara has been an active member in the art community and the Japanese Canadian community for over 40 years. His investment in the City of Hamilton, where he was born and raised, has been impactful to the rapidly growing Hamilton arts scene. In 1975, he was the founding member and first Administrator of Hamilton Artists Inc. Since 2003 he has been curator and proprietor of you me gallery, Hamilton, mounting over 150 exhibitions with the intent to "close the gap between art and the general public"

Recently, Kanbara co-curated the exhibition Being Japanese Canadian: reflections on a broken world at the Royal Ontario Museum (2018-2019). From 2008-2019 he was the curator/chair of the Art Committee at the Japanese Canadian Cultural Centre, Toronto. Other curatorial positions include Burlington Art Centre (1988-93), Art Gallery of Hamilton (1997-2000) and Glenhyrst Art Gallery of Brant (2012-15).

In his community art and public projects, Kanbara provokes dialogue around identity, acceptance, and trust. Kanbara has shown nationally and internationally and was awarded The National Association of Japanese Canadians (NAJC), The Art Miki Community Leadership Award in 2018.

In addition, Kanbara has served as the Executive Director of the Greater Toronto Chapter, National Association of Japanese Canadians, the Executive Board member and first Chair of the Endowment Fund Committee of the national NAJC and member, NAJC Redress Strategy Committee.

More information: youmegallery.com/bryce


Key Terms:

Iki literally translates to breath in Japanese. The concept behind this stemmed from two ideas: The first, is a reflection on the Sansei Japanese Canadian generation who felt as though they had to "hold their breath" through the majority of their lives. They were unable to speak of their families' histories and unable to fully embrace their Japanese roots. Therefore, the feeling of holding your breath, unable to make a decision in fear of repercussions is why we entitled this exhibition, IKI: breath. The second idea is a reflection on the feeling of the current day Sansei Japanese Canadian generation – artists Lillian and Bryce as direct examples -  that have found their breath and their voice. The artists make reference to "breathing in" and "breathing out" an action that relates to meditation and reflection, but also for speaking and taking the time to focus on what and who is around you.

Nikkei A Japanese emigrant or a descendant thereof who is not a citizen of Japan. Commonly used in Japan to refer to people of Japanese ancestry that are living abroad as citizens of other countries.

Issei, Nisei, and Sansei are Japanese language terms. Issei is used in North America, South America and Australia to specify the Japanese people first to immigrate. Their children born in the new country are referred to as Nisei and their grandchildren are Sansei (Lillian and Bryce).

Yonsei is the fourth generation of people of Japanese Canadian descent.  They are fully integrated in the broader society. Their connections to Japanese culture are limited and mainly involve family gatherings and some traditional celebrations involving their Sansei parents and Nisei grandparents.

Happa is a contemporary term for persons of mixed non-Japanese and Japanese ancestry (Lillian's daughters and grandchildren).

JC is a short form for Japanese Canadians, widely accepted in the community.