Emily Hanako Momohara, "Tree", from the series "Koden", 2009, archival pigment print, 22x34"

Emily Hanako Momohara, “Tree”, from the series “Koden”, 2009, archival pigment print, 22×34″

Emily Hanako Momohara

Koden: n. Condolence money traditionally given to bereaving families in Japanese culture. A Buddhist practice of compassion.

After experiencing the deaths of seven friends and family members within a short period time in 2007, I have begun to contemplate bereavement and legacy in a new way. The experiences I shared with those who have passed away are still a part of my own identity, living on in everyone touched by them. Several people who died recently were members of my family, my Japanese-American community, and had added to my multi-cultural upbringing. As is the case with many families, culture and tradition falls away as the older generations leave us. Through the use of tableaus and funeral home settings, I create self-portraits that represent haunting aspects of those who have passed on. The images I create in their memory are full of the dichotomies that life and death offer, showing the need to hang on to my loved-one’s lives, as well as the fleeting quality of memory and time. Strange shadows and blurred movement reference absence and presence while light symbolizes a physical connection between heaven and earth. The chapel-like funeral homes offer a familiar yet uncomfortable setting, allowing viewers to experience a moment of awareness for the legacy and emotional impact of those we love.

Emily Hanako Momohara grew up near Seattle, Washington in a multi-cultural family and currently lives and works as an Assistant Professor of Art at the Art Academy of Cincinnati, Ohio. Her artwork represents the challenge of merging the many layers of her life; issues surrounding legacy and ethnicity are central themes in her practice. Momohara earned her BFA in Photography and her BA in Art History from the University of Washington in 2001. She went on to receive her MFA in Expanded Media from the University of Kansas in 2006. She has participated in residencies at the Kimmel Harding Nelson Center for the Arts (Nebraska City, NE) and the Artist Enclave: I-Park (East Haddam, CT). She has exhibited nationally with solo exhibitions at the Oregon Nikkei Legacy Center (Portland, OR), Clara Eagle Gallery (Murray, KY), The Vault Gallery (Kansas City, MO), Magic Valley Arts Council (Twin Falls, ID), and group exhibitions at the Light Factory (Charlotte, NC), the Center for Fine Art Photography (Denver, CO), the University of Wisconsin (Milwaukee, WI), among many others.

Emily Hanako Momohara was an artist in residence at CPW in 2007.