Portland Community College | Portland, Oregon Portland Community College

Sakura Sakura & Images of the 442 | Photographs by Motoya Nakamura

Sakura Sakura & Images of 442

sakura sakura - cherry trees bloom while a person with pigtails and a gingham shirt look onPhotographs by Motoya Nakamura | Exhibition Runs Jan 27 – Feb 22, 2023                

Sakura Sakura|The Images of the 442

The SE Art Gallery is pleased to announce an exhibition highlighting two bodies of work from Portland photographer, Motoya Nakamura this February on the first floor of the Student Commons (SCOM) building. This first year of programming at the SE Art Gallery which seeks to center the students and the community in placemaking, history and connection is paramount. The location of the SE PCC campus, on the land, once farmed by Japanese American farmers who cultivated the blossoming fruit trees (some like the pear and cherry trees near our present-day learning garden) brought to mind Motoya’s work looking to the cherry blossoms and their brief and glorious bloom along the Tom McCall waterfront  on the edge of the Willamette River.

Motoya Nakamura has been associated with Portland Community College since as early as 2009, as part of the Faculty Internship Program Cohort and a Photography instructor  later in the Photography program at Sylvania and Newberg campuses.  He holds a master’s degree in Fine Arts and Contemporary Art Practice from Portland State University and a bachelor’s degree in Journalism from the University of Missouri-Columbia.  He is an award-winning photographer, including the Pulitzer Prize for Public Service and has been exhibited at the Portland Art Museum, and the Japanese American Museum of Oregon, to name a few.

Motoya Nakamura in his own words…

“Much of my work could be characterized as being a blend of art photography and photojournalism. Having been a professional photojournalist for more than 17 years, I have used photography not only to think critically about the world around me but also to give voice to people who otherwise wouldn’t have one. I have used art photography as a way to explore my internal landscape, the place where my soul resides.  Much of my personal work has been autobiographical in nature.

As a resident of the United States and an immigrant from Japan, I have lived half my life in each country. My identity has changed as I have assimilated to the new culture. With my exposure to the world, both as an artist and a photojournalist, my assimilation has accelerated. I often feel as though I am a foreigner in this new land while simultaneously feeling like a stranger in the old. I constantly grapple with the notion of belonging, identity and diaspora.”

Additional Programming

A Conversation with the Artist | Thursday, Feb 12th 2023 | 11AM – 2PM

SE Art Gallery – Third floor | Student Commons Building, SE PCC Campus | SE 82nd Ave, Portland Oregon

This is an in-person and a recorded remote event. You can drop in – in person or register for the Zoom meeting and attend remotely. Registration for the recorded Zoom session is through Give Pulse

In this informal artist discussion with students, Motoya would like to discuss approaches to personal memoir, documentary styles and how to use ones creative process to investigate and explore ones own feelings of loss, belonging, family and at times, being pulled in multiple directions throughout life.  Bring your questions, your notebooks and be ready to relax and chat or just listen and consider. All are welcome, entire classes are welcome to attend! This event will be open to the public and will be recorded for classes / broadcast on Zoom – folks wishing to participate remotely can do so over Zoom. REGISTER via Give Pulse to receive the invitation and code for the meeting.

Closing Reception | Wednesday, Feb 22nd 2023 | 6PM – 8PM

SE Art Gallery – First Floor | Student Commons Building, SE PCC Campus | SE 82nd Ave, Portland Oregon

Please register here for Community Based Learning credit if you’d like to volunteer

Open to the All – students, faculty, staff, neighbors and families welcome

We welcome you to come and celebrate the works of Motoya Nakamura as we close the exhibitions. The images of the 442nd will be moving to its new and permanent home at the Japanese American Museum of Oregon. It was such an honor to display and share Motoya’s work this past month.

Sakura Sakura


More information and Resources:

25 years of Portland cherry blossoms: Photo show honors trees’ Japanese roots

Motoya Nakamura Hopes ‘ Sakura Sakura’ Inspires people to reflect on their own lives

Images of the 442nd Nisei Japanese American WWII Veterans and Their Continuing Legacy

“This project began as a way to honor local WWII veterans who belonged to the U.S. Army 442nd Regimental Combat Team. The 442nd RCT, a segregated unit open to Nisei Japanese Americans from both Hawaii and the mainland, was formed in Camp Shelby, Mississippi, in 1943. During the war, these soldiers fought on the front lines against Nazi forces and liberated Jewish prisoners in Holocaust concentration camps. They did this away from their homes and livelihoods, while their families were confined to internment camps back in the United States. While war hysteria fueled racial discrimination against Japanese Americans, these Nisei soldiers fought hard for their county in order to prove their patriotism. The 442nd became the most decorated unit in the U.S. military history for its size and length of service.”                                                    – Motoya Nakamura

More information and Resources:

The Japanese Museum of Oregon

County Photographer Captures History, Unsung Heroes