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Soft focus on a hard topic

Jerry Takigawa’s “Balancing Cultures” series won first place at the Foto Forum Santa Fe photography Awards. (Courtesy of Foto Forum Santa Fe)

Copyright © 2021 Albuquerque Journal

Jerry Takigawa is a storyteller.

The photographer captured attention with his “Balancing Cultures” series in the Foto Forum Santa Fe Photography Awards and was the winner in the first annual event.

“At first glance, it’s beautiful because of the soft focus of the family portraits,” says Sage Paisner, owner of Foto Forum Santa Fe. “Then, you get into the context of the history of America and the relationships for Japanese American families.”

Takigawa took home the top prize and won a solo exhibition at the gallery space in August. The opening for Takigawa’s show will 5-7 p.m. Aug. 6, with a Zoom talk at 4 p.m. the same day.

Takigawa says he worked with layers of meaning, memory, family and with Executive Order 9066, which mandated the incarceration of 120,000 American citizens and legal residents of Japanese ancestry.

“Startled by a discovery of old family photographs taken in a WWII American concentration camp, I felt compelled to speak out in contrast to my parents’ silence about their incarceration,” Takigawa says. “I wanted to give voice to their feelings, which they kept concealed for fear of retribution.”

Takigawa pieced together the historical puzzle of his family’s history.

Jerry Takigawa dived deep into his family’s history to create “Balancing Cultures.” (Courtesy of Foto Forum Santa Fe)

“I feel this is something everyone does. We are the puzzle – our family, friends, community and society – all pieces within the big puzzle of the universe,” he says. “Creating a visual narrative through transitory collaged photographs, using artifacts, documents and memories, resulted in a personal expression of one family’s journey from immigration to incarceration, and re-integration.”

Takigawa says the work began as a personal identity project and grew into an examination of the United States’ political and social injustices against its Japanese American population.”

Paisner says Takigawa’s pieces are important because it keeps a narrative moving forward about the internment camps, one of which was near Santa Fe.

“History tends to repeat itself,” Paisner says. “Just think about what America is going through now. There are kids in cages and we have immigration issues. His work is pertinent and it’s important to not forget our history. It’s powerful and beautiful.”

Lily Colman took home second prize. Honorable mentions are: Amelia Borja, Ruben Esparza, Jiayi Liang, Oscar Ochoa, Katie Shapiro and Rashod Taylor.




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