This special issue is based on papers first presented at a UW-JSPS Symposium on Socially Engaged Art in Japan, held at the University of Washington, November 12-14, 2015. The symposium was in planning for two years and there are many organizations and individuals I would like to thank for their support. First and foremost, the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science (JSPS), who made it possible to invite many participants from Japan. About half of the presenters came from Japan, something which was crucial for the success of the project given the underdeveloped state of research on the topic in English-language Japan/ese Studies and Art History. The Japan Foundation Center for Global Partnership and the Japan-US Friendship Commission provided critical support, both monetary and moral.
At the University of Washington, the Simpson Center for the Humanities provided both financial support and a team of people able to attend to the finest details and the broadest intellectual horizons simultaneously and with unending grace. I extend a special thanks to the Center’s director, Kathleen Woodward, for whom no amount of thanks is enough. I also thank the Japan Studies Program and the Department of Asian Languages and Literature, each of which were instrumental in bringing the events together. Ellen Eskenazi in particular was an irreplaceable problem solver and advocate who always went beyond already unreasonable demands. The School of Art, Art History and Design; Urban@UW; and the Performance Studies Research Group were all generous with their support and participation. I also thank the Jacob Lawrence Gallery and its director, Scott Lawrimore, for hosting TANAKA Kōki’s talk, as well as the Japan Arts and Globalization group (JAG) for helping to get the word out.
The City of Seattle Office of Arts and Culture (Kathy Hsieh, Ruri Yampolsky, Eric Frederick, and Matthew Richter) were extremely generous with their time, offering us a tour of some of their projects and arranging a special information session with Path With Art, a group that works with people recovering from homelessness and addiction.
The participants made the event what it was and I must thank them for putting so much of themselves into it. First and foremost, I want to thank the people who ventured outside of their disciplinary comfort-zones in order to participate. Sharon Daniel participated in the entire weekend of events and provided a keynote address that drove the stakes of political commitment to the deep entanglements of social injustice and individual pain where change is most urgently needed. Sasha Su-Ling Welland, Adair Rounthwaite, Xiaojin Wu, Tad Hirsch, and Marilyn Ivy each contributed a great deal as discussants and Michael Swaine generously shared his thoughts and work on matter and scaling. I thank Tanaka Kōki and KATŌ Tsubasa for sharing their work as part of the events and offer a special thanks to KITAGAWA Fram for his patience and generosity, as well as an apology on behalf of the United Security States. I also thank the presenters whose work will be appearing elsewhere: SUMITOMO Fumihiko and William Marotti. My thanks also go to the presenters and authors whose work is part of this collection: Adrian Favell, KAWASHIMA Nobuko, KUMAKURA Sumiko, KURESAWA Takemi, MŌRI Yoshitaka, TAKEHISA Yuu, IGARASHI Tarō, Miwako TEZUKA, Reiko TOMII, UEDA Kanayo, and YOSHIMOTO Mitsuhiro. They have fit a great deal of work into demanding schedules and have been responsive to numerous requests for revisions.
Finally, I must thank Grant Kester and the FIELD editorial collective for taking on this project and for offering thoughtful comments and questions. Maintaining high standards of quality in an open venue takes work which I greatly appreciate, well beyond their investment in this collection. I hope the results live up to their and your expectations.
Thumbnail image: Tsubasa KATO, The Lighthouses – 11.3 PROJECT (2011). Photo by Kei MIYAJIMA. © Tsubasa Kato / Courtesy of the artist and MUJIN-TO Production.