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international photography annual 1 exhibition-in-print
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Emily Hanako Momohara
Cincinnati, Ohio

Art Academy of Cincinnati,
Associate Professor of Art

page 105

detail image


I heard that my Great-grandparents lived on Momohara Island. It was said that you could only get there by foot at low tide. I imagined no one else lived on the island but our family. And such a small, remote island would be abandoned by now...

This body of work is inspired by a trip to Okinawa to investigate my family's life there before immigrating to Hawaii. During this journey, old stories proved wrong. In actuality, there was no Momohara Island. In fact, my real last name is not Momohara. This new knowledge added to the legacy of my Great-grandparents. And I was thankful and intrigued by the facts learned. However, the "myths" did not die in my mind. I could not abandon their charm or my absorption of them.

Legacy is not factual, but ebbs with its human carrier. This is what happens when memory becomes collective and history is owned by those of us remaining. A story passes from one person to the next, to the next while the account alters slightly. In the end, the message may or may not resemble the original.

The Sagebrush Season series references the Japanese American WWII experience in American incarceration camps and my esthetic longing for Japan. The Sagebrush points to the desert camps through landscape and place. However, the format and traditional season motif places the story in a mythological and romantic Japanese space.

Through art, fact and myth can be combined to create my family's story. In a sense, Momohara Island does exist if only in my mind.



born: 1974, Seattle, Washington


University of Kansas, MFA, Expanded Media 2006
University of Washington, BFA Photography, 2001
University of Washington, BA Art History, 2001

selected awards/honors

Artist-in-Residence, Fine Arts Work Center, 2012
Individual Excellence Award and Grant, Ohio Art Council, 2011
Artist-in-Residence, Kimmel Harding Nelson Center for the Arts, 2009
Artist-in-Residence, Center for Photography at Woodstock, 2007

selected publications

Art Papers, "Emily Hanako Momohara," November/December 2011
Photo Pages, Citybeat, "Emily Hanako Momohara: Islands," Volume 2, Issue 1, 2011
PQ, A Journal for Contemporary Photography, "Kode", Center for Photography at Woodstock, No. 98, vol. 24 #1
Seattle PI, "Photos are a Grim Reminder of Internment Camps of WWII" Seattle, WA, February 19, 2002

selected solo or two-person exhibits

PAC Gallery: Islands, Cincinnati, OH 2011
Art Institute of Cincinnati: Koden, Cincinnati, OH 2011
Roy G. Biv Gallery: Memorialize, Columbus, OH 2009
Oregon Nikkei Legacy Center: Desert Sands, Portland, OR 2009

selected group shows

Griffin Museum of Photography: Annual Jurried Exhibition, Boston, MA, 2011
Alice F. and Harris K. Weston Art Gallery, Aronoff Center for the Arts: Disturbing Reality, Cincinnati, OH 2010
Light Factory: Photographer as Videographer, Charlotte, NC 2009
Indiana State University Gallery: In and Out of Place, Turre Haute, IN. 2008



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