More than just a name, "Miyoko" in Japanese means “beautiful generation”. The art I create is a reflection of my generation as a Sansei, many of us who in our formative years grew up with the experience of our families being incarcerated in concentration camps, the explosion of the civil rights, free speech, anti-war movements and fight for Ethnic Studies. By designing leaflets, banners, placards for demonstrations and learning silk screening and air brushing to make posters my graphic design career was born.
My father was an accomplished artist. He explained to me how he and other artists would paint symbols of the Sho Chiku Bai (symbolic of resistance to hardship, Koi (perseverance), Tsuru and Kame (long life) in camp to help people cope with the trauma. It made me realize that art wasn't just for creative expression, it could have a profound impact on people's spirit, their existence. This sparked what became my path to understand the artistic symbolism in the cultural heritages of my family.
Our Nikkei Matsuri Connection
Prior to the 1970’s there weren't many outlets for artists and crafts people of color to sell their creative works. During this time many of us were identifying with our cultural heritages and seeing ways to express this by starting community art collectives and performing groups. Community street fairs were organized to share the knowledge and pride we had in our respective communities and were an integral part of our struggle for social justice and combat racism.
I started selling my artwork in Nikkei Matsuri in 1978 through 1980, after that I moved to New York to study textile design at the Fashion Institute of Technology. After two decades of putting my artwork aside and raising a family, in 2004 I started creating my own art again and began participating at Nikkei Matsuri in 2010.
I believe that Japanese American events like Nikkei Matsuri are very important because it brings the whole community together with information, performances, arts & crafts and food reflecting all aspects of the pride we have in being Asian/Pacific Islander in America ~ culturally, spiritually and historically. I enjoy seeing friends and the camaraderie shared with the other vendors! And as our Japanese communities are being more dispersed now by gentrification and redevelopment, events like Nikkei Matsuri are even more important.