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Go for Broke!




Movie excerpts from "Something Strong Within"
(Written dialogue by Bob Aisawa)


My Statement

In 1990, I was fortunate to stay at home with my two adopted children and paint everyday. This served as a way for me to expose what I felt within my soul. Only understanding "surface" issues.

It wasn't until 2000, when I saw home movies of the camp experience when I realized that living in "camp" was not like going to a church camp. For the first time I began to realize that the eyes I saw from the people in those movies were exactly like the eyes I drew in my paintings. I began to realize that my mom and dad, were victimized and “raped” emotionally during WWII when they were placed in internment camps, might have a lot to do with the dark nature of my work. Maybe not physically but emotionally I was put in a “concentration camp” at home while growing up. And even though my folks never talked bad about the camps, the bitterness and rage was transferred to me through verbal and psychological abuse. The “Gestapo” mentality of power to abuse seems to show up in my work.

At the same time my wife asked if I thought I would go into the camp if it happened today. I answered, "No". She asked, "Why not?", and I simply replied, "Because I'm white...". Stunned at my answer she responded and told me that I wasn't white but Japanese... again I said I was "white", but this time I heard what just blurted out of my mouth and realized for the first time a core value I had told myself at age 6... I was stunned that all these years I believed I was "white" knowing full well I was not.

I felt closure in 2005 after finishing five small paintings. I no longer felt the need to project dark images onto a painting. At the time I did not know if I was going to paint again. In 2009 I began using color and did not want to use anymore black and gray colors.

I recently went on two trips to Japan. One trip was to minister to those victims of the tsunami that displaced hundreds of thousands of people. Just by coincedence I found out that my Aisawa family resided near the Fujishima plant and the whole town they were living at had to leave because of radiation contamination. I am in the process of trying to locate them. The last trip I took last year was a conference called the homecoming... I found myself crying in someones arms being welcomed "home"... I became Japanese once again.

God only knows where this will lead me next. The journey continues.

Email: raisawa@sce.edu