An Online Exhibit: What Do We See?


EDITOR’S NOTE (From Visual Communications’ Archives & Distribution Manager Abraham Ferrer) : As part of a final project for Winter Quarter, student interns from UCLA’s Asian American Studies 140SL and 185-1 Capstone classes were challenged to cast a cold eye on the Los Angeles Little Tokyo community outside the confines of Visual Communications’ home at the Union Center for the Arts. This online exhibit — the first of hopefully many — compelled the interns to use equipment that many of them have never handled before (for instance, may have never used a digital SLR camera) and “see” the community through a critical lens, the better to understand the consequences of change throughout Little Tokyo. Their exhibit, annotated by their curatorial statement and individual picture notes lightly edited for spelling and grammar, are displayed below.

After spending Winter Quarter 2019 at Visual Communications, we witnessed firsthand the realities of Little Tokyo today — city renovations, homelessness, displacement of Asian Pacific Islanders, loss of cultural significance, and much more. We reflected on how we, as patrons, sow and reap from this historic community: the first seeds which were planted in 1885 to the roses and thorns that have bloomed since. WHAT DO WE SEE is a reflection on Little Tokyo’s past and present, and the deeper shifts that are consequence of physical changes. We remember the importance of understanding and analyzing root causes of the issues we face today in order to draw connections to all the realities faced in Little Tokyo. Not only does Visual Communications provide authentic stories of Asian Pacific Islanders; the organization advocates for community members through providing historical archives materials including photographs, newspaper articles, audio, and other forms of media to engineer a more authentic narrative of our people.

Today, we give to you: What We See in Little Tokyo.

Asian American Studies 140 SL:
Carrie Hsu
Sharon Lee
Mary McHenry
Kevin Nguyen
Jason Ordonio

Asian American Studies 185-1 Capstone:
Kevyn Lorenzana