Shared Footsteps: From Exclusion to Injustice

Shared Footsteps: From Exclusion to Injustice
A Procession and Sansei Arts Experience

Share in the footsteps with Sansei artists and musicians in this multi-site experience connecting the two powerful exhibitions at the Presidio. The artists work is a reflection and response to their families’ incarceration during WWII. The journey begins at Exclusion: The Presidio's Role in WWII at the Presidio Officers’ Club, then travels to Then They Came For Me: Incarceration of Japanese Americans during WWII and the Demise of Civil Liberties at Building 100.  

Karen Korematsu, daughter of civil rights advocate Fred T. Korematsu, will share her father’s story at Exclusion and artist Judy Shintani will share “Deconstructed Kimono”, a dramatic installation prominently featured in the entry.  Following the short tour, join a procession to Building 100 led by fue player Kallan Nishimoto, with percussion by Ellen Bepp and rhythms by Maze Daiko (Janet Koike, Tina Blaine, Kathryn Cabunoc, and Jeanie Mckenzie). Upon arrival, "The Heart of the Mountain" a tribute to Janet Koike’s grandfather, will be performed by Maze Daiko. Inside Building 100, view the contemporary art installation by Sansei Granddaughters, on display from July 12 - August 2, as part of Then They Came for Me exhibition and meet participating visual artists Ellen Bepp, Reiko Fujii, Shari Arai DeBoer and Judy Shintani.  Sansei Granddaughters’ Journey, a short film on the collaborating artists will be screened in the gallery at 1:00 pm, followed by a brief dialogue.


Karen Korematsu (guest speaker) is the Founder and Executive Director of the Fred T. Korematsu Institute and the daughter of the late civil rights icon, Fred Korematsu. Since her father’s passing in 2005, Karen has carried on his legacy as a public speaker, educator and civil rights advocate. She shares her father’s passion for social justice and education and in 2009 established the Fred T. Korematsu Institute to advance racial equity, social justice and human rights for all. The Institute’s work has expanded from K-12 civic education to promoting Public civic engagement and participation.  Karen crisscrosses the country speaking to audiences from Kindergarten to Judges and inspiring and promoting Fred Korematsu Day of Civil Liberties and the Constitution of January 30. 

Visual Artists:

Sansei Granddaughter’s Journey is a short documentary about sansei artists Reiko Fujii, Ellen Bepp, Kathy Fujii-Oka, Judy Shintani and Shari Arai DeBoer who embark on a journey to pay respects to their relatives and others who endured the unjust incarceration of Japanese Americans. Director: Reiko Fujii; Videographer: Pat Mayo

Sansei Granddaughter’s Imprint, a contemporary visual arts installation, will be on view with the exhibition “Then They Came For Me” from July 13 to August 4, 2019.

Shari Arai DeBoer is a third generation Japanese American, born and raised in the Eastbay.  With a degree in architecture Shari worked as an architect before shifting her focus to art. In her art practice she examines wonders of the natural world, the minutiae of everyday life and her family's stories. She is active in art collectives and organizations that work to give voice to Asian Pacific American and women's perspectives. 

Ellen Bepp is a mixed media artist and taiko musician who has aspired to give voice to her Japanese cultural roots through visual and musical expression. Since 1980 she has exhibited her art nationally, including at the Oakland Museum of CA, Berkeley Art Center, Euphrat Museum of Art and Jamaica Arts Center, NY. Her work has spanned various media: wearable art, collaborative installations, theatrical costume and set design, collage and handcut paper. In addition, her political activism and interest in the folk arts and weaving traditions of Latin America has inspired her arts research and humanitarian cultural exchange projects in Guatemala, Mexico, Peru, Brazil, Nicaragua and Cuba. Starting taiko training in 1974 under Grand Master Seiichi Tanaka of San Francisco Taiko Dojo, Ellen went on to perform with San Jose Taiko. In 1999 she co-founded Somei Yoshino Taiko Ensemble, with whom she performed nationally and internationally. She has striven to integrate a multi-disciplinary vision into the art of taiko. Ellen continues to explore the political connection between art, culture and humanity, informed by her identity as an Asian American woman artist.

Reiko Fujii was born in 1950 in Riverside, California, four years after her parents, grandparents, and other relatives were released from their imprisonment in WWII American concentration camps. Her life and art have forever been intertwined with the influence of the camps on her family.  Her art reflects a determination to preserve stories…..the stories of her ancestors, the stories of the Japanese American experience, as well as stories of the mundane and extraordinary. Ultimately, these imprints inhabit her and become her own story as expressed in kiln-formed glass, performance pieces, installation art, photography, video, documentaries, book arts, and more. Her “Detained Alien Enemy Glass Kimono” gave rise to a personally emotional wearable art piece. Individual photographs of her family, friends and acquaintances, while they were incarcerated, are fused onto 224 handmade glass frames. This Kimono comes alive when worn, as the glass strikes together, creating the sound of wind chimes.

Judy Shintani has focused much of her art career on researching and creating works that give voice to incarceree memories and hidden stories about this time. She has exhibited and conducted social engagement events throughout the United States and  internationally. Shintani has been an artist in residence at Santa Fe Art Institute, Creativity Explored for Disabled Adults, and was a fellow at Vermont Studio Center. Her upcoming Innocent Dreamer Exhibition at the Triton Museum of Art in Santa Clara has been awarded the California Civil Liberties Public Education grant from the California Library Foundation.


Kallan Nishimoto received Bachelor of Music degrees in Music Education and Clarinet Performance from the UOP Conservatory of Music. He studied shamisen with Hideko Nakajima, shakuhachi with Masayuki Koga of the Japanese Music Institute and has trained under Grand Master Seiichi Tanaka of the San Francisco Taiko Dojo . Kallan has composed music and has designed sound for the Asian American Theater Company , Asiantics Theater, Wise Fool Puppet Intervention, Cellspace, Oneness Butoh as well as various film, video and dance projects. He has co-founded or worked with various funk, rock and world music ensembles such as Littletown, Bolo, Rebecca's Mask , Jane His Wife, Candide, Drumfire, Somei Yoshino Taiko Ensemble and Rain Taiko Ensemble. Kallan currently works as a producer/recording engineer at Flytrap Studios.

Ellen Bepp (see full bio above) Starting taiko training in 1974 under Grand Master Seiichi Tanaka of San Francisco Taiko Dojo, Ellen went on to perform with San Jose Taiko. In 1999 she co-founded Somei Yoshino Taiko Ensemble, with whom she performed nationally and internationally. She has striven to integrate a multi-disciplinary vision into the art of taiko.

Maze Daiko - Performing: Janet Koike, Tina Blaine, Kathryn Cabunoc, and Jeanie Mckenzie

In Japanese, the word mazeru means “to mix,” daiko the word for drum. Maze Daiko is a world music ensemble that continues to evolve by mixing Japanese taiko with West African drums and marimba, and European violin, creating an innovative sound. Artistic director, Janet Koike trained with San Francisco Taiko Dojo, and was part of San Jose Taiko’s artistic team. The members of Maze Daiko include Kathryn Cabunoc, Tina Blaine (aka bean), Carolyn West, and Elaine Fong have many collective years of experience in taiko or musical groups including Emeryville Taiko, D’CuCKOO and Rhythmix ensemble. This mix of musicians combined with Maze Daiko’s newest member, violinist Jeannie Mckenzie, create original music with a unique cultural style. In 2008, Maze worked with First Voice (Brenda Wong Aoki and Mark Izu) to create “the Legend of Morning Glory” combining kabuki story, jazz, and taiko. Maze was featured at the 2015 North American Taiko Conference and has collaborated in concert with Kodo Artists, Yoko Fujimoto, Chieko Kojima and Kaoru Watanabe, Ensohza Minyoshu, First Voice (Mark Izu and Brenda Wong Aoki) and On Ensemble. In 2016 Maze created and performed the music for multi-disciplinary site specific art event, Island City Waterways.


This program is held in conjunction with Then They Came For Me: Incarceration of Japanese Americans During WWII and the Demise of Civil Liberties, a special multimedia exhibition featuring imagery by noted photographers commissioned by the U.S. government's War Relocation Authority, including Dorothea Lange and Clem Albers, along with photographers Ansel Adams, Toyo Miyatake and Paul Kitagaki, Jr., as well as a range of artifacts from the period.

Gallery Hours: Wed-Sun, 10 am to 6 pm, FREE and open to the public.

Getting to Then They Came For Me:

The PresidiGo Downtown Shuttle provides FREE roundtrip service to the Presidio. The shuttle picks up at the Transbay Terminal or Embarcadero BART.

If you are driving, be sure that you are driving to the Presidio (zip code 94129), not the 100 Montgomery located downtown.

Ramp access is available at the back of the building on Taylor Road between Sheridan Road and Bliss Avenue. This building is ADA compliant.