Artist as Storyteller

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Supported by the Seattle Colleges Performing Arts Fund, the Artist as Storyteller speakers series welcomes BIPOC artists, performers, and activists to share their work and connect with students about what it means to be an artist in today’s social and cultural climate. The series emphasizes the art-making and storytelling process as it relates to the individual and community.

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Erin Shigaki

Erin Shigaki was born and raised in Seattle, WA, where she recently returned after many years on the east coast, studying and working in design and art education. Her homecoming has paved a path for public art commissions and grants to create work that is community based and focused on the experiences of communities of color, often the World War II incarceration of her community. Erin is passionate about highlighting similarities between that history, the inhumane detention and family separation immigrants face today, and other systemic violence and injustices black and brown people continue to face. She is keen to explore intergenerational trauma and the emergence of beauty and intimacy despite harsh circumstances. Erin’s work also examines the act of reclamation: of land, language and culture. She believes that using art to tell stories about these moments can educate, redress wrongs, and incrementally heal.

Erin is a community activist, and helps run an annual pilgrimage to Minidoka, the American concentration camp where her family was incarcerated. She is also a part of Tsuru for Solidarity, a nonviolent, direct action project of Japanese American social justice advocates working to end detention and incarceration for all.

Erin holds a B.A. from Yale University and completed additional design and art study at American University and in Brissago, Switzerland, among others. She has exhibited in Seattle, WA at such places as The Wing Luke Museum, Occidental Park, Nihonmachi Alley, Cornish Playhouse, and ARTS at King Street Station. She was a 2018 Artist in Residence at Densho.

See more of Erin’s work here.

Watch Erin speak about Japanese incarceration, the historical "othering" of Asian and Pacific Islander Americans, and what it means to find home: 

Student Bio