The People’s Choice Award went to River City Art Association member Jimmie R. Tabor, one of eight artists participating in the Vigo County Public Library’s fourth annual Big Read Art Exhibition in March in celebration of the 2018 Big Read book selection, “When the Emperor Was Divine” by Julie Otsuka.
At the March 26 Big Read coffee and conversation reception, Tabor received a potted orchid as his People’s Choice Award as voted by library patrons viewing the art exhibit throughout March Big Read activities at the library.
The library challenged artists of all mediums to illustrate scenes from Otsuka’s powerful novel with prevalent themes of national identity, heritage, the American dream, racial prejudice, imprisonment and alienation.
The artwork in the library’s Big Read art exhibition was a reflection of author Julie Otsuka’s story of a Japanese American family’s experience in an internment camp during World War II.
Tabor, a resident of Center Point, Indiana, entered a watercolor titled “Lost Identities.” “The Japanese Americans went to the camps willingly and were greatly confused,” Tabor said in his artist’s statement for the competition. “The children suffered a great trauma in their formative years.”
Patrons voting for Tabor’s entry include:
“The pain in their eyes reflects the sign of the times, especially for the children.”
“This portrait says a thousand words.”
“The blank expression on the children’s faces calls to mind how the mother tried to keep her children calm and obedient … it also reflects their plain existence behind barbed wire.”
RCAA artists Edith Acton and Sheila K. Ter Meer also attended the coffee and conversation reception and awards ceremony. Patrons also left comments when voting for their works.
Edith Acton of Terre Haute designed a fused glass wall hanging titled “Our House with Rose Bush.”
Edith said of her entry: “The family’s house was in a neighborhood that was filled with colorful trees and was a reasonably nice area. The house was two stories with a porch and gravel path. The woman had planted a rose bush that was remembered when the family returned to the house. It had been stolen from the front of the house.”
“Loved the fused glass depiction of the family’s home with rosebush uprooted.”
“The uprooted rosebush symbolizes the family uprooted from their home.”
“The family did not lose their hope while in the camp although it was tested. They began their lives again after returning because of the kindness of people and the vision of their future in their sights.”
Sheila K. Ter Meer of Brazil, Indiana, created a photography-based digital art piece on fine art canvas mounted on bamboo panel titled “Somewhere … Blossoming Madly,” inspired by a line in the book: “we never stopped believing that somewhere out there, in some stranger’s backyard, our mother’s rose bush was blossoming madly…” The rosebush represents the ideal of freedom. In the end, the children imagine the rosebush growing freely and without restraint. In the real world, the rosebush and freedom it represents are stolen from them. It becomes a metaphor for the U.S. stealing the freedom of Japanese Americans.
“The vivid colors stand out to me. Beautiful!”
“The rosebush represents freedom, new life, new beginnings…”
“Captures the pain, but captures the hope.”