On Being Michiko   a sansei artist's journey

Lillian Michiko Blakey is a sansei, a third generation Canadian.  She is a past president of the Ontario Society of Artists, which was founded in 1872. Her artwork can be found in the Government of Ontario Art Collection  and the Nikkei National Museum in Burnaby, British Columbia, as well as in private collections in many countries. 

On Being Michiko

a sansei artist’s journey

Who am I?  Being not wholly Canadian and yet not entirely Japanese, the nature of my identity has been a troubling issue. On the one hand, I inherited the strong feelings of shame that Japanese Canadians experienced following the repressive actions of the Canadian government in World War II.  On the other hand, the fact is that my family members have been loyal Canadians for over 100 years and we had nothing to be ashamed of.  Nevertheless, I grew up denying my cultural roots, my first language and my people.

It is only in recent years that I have tried to reconcile my dilemma by depicting my family's story in my art work. I have attempted to bring past and present together by including myself, as I am now, looking back at the events which happened so long ago and analysing the effects on succeeding generations.

Alienation and persecution continue to be suffered by people all over the world.  As a result, many people have come to Canada seeking a peaceful existence in a just society.  I hope that my work serves as a tribute to the courageous people who came before me, and as a visual warning that the persecution suffered by any family can be repeated, even in the most democratic of countries - even in Canada - if we are not vigilant. 

The text and images on this site are copyrighted by the artist. Please seek her permission before using any of the material on this site.

Feel free to look through my portfolio for a sample of my work. If you have any questions, please contact me.


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