Riverside Love Story, an Artist-in-Residence Project

Renowned storyteller Brenda Wong Aoki and Emmy Award-winning composer Mark Izu will weave Asian-American history, family legend, and humor together in a vibrant celebration of our community.

Inspired by Wendy Maruyama: E.O. 9066, Brenda and Mark will place their focus on the interracial connections (including love stories) around the time of the incarceration and the impact on their descendants today. Because of a long-shared history, they will specifically reach out to the Chicano/Mexicano and Japanese-American communities in Riverside.

The project still in development, Brenda writes:

Distilling our conversations, researching Wendy’s work, and cognizant of the current demographics of Riverside, the energy building around The Cheech Marin Center, and the need to bring attention to the Hard House renovation efforts and the immigration issues stressing the Latino community, we thought long and hard about what kind of community engagement we could do around the Japanese incarceration that would add to the story.

Our work, while based in the Japanese/Chinese/Asian-American experience, is intended to be culturally specific, but universally empowering. Unfortunately, the racial bigotry so devastating to our ancestors is repeating itself to both new immigrants and to second-, third-, fourth-, and fifth-generation Latinos, Muslims, Asians, and others. As we begin to unwrap our histories in California, we find not merely commonalities of subjugation, but also that we banded together and provided mutual support for each other. While Japanese-Americans were incarcerated, those who remained tended the fields and stored our treasured possessions. And when we returned, we joined together on athletic fields in the matrimony. We fought together in the military and fought anti-miscegenation laws. Tamales on New Year’s Eve became just as important as ozoni on New Year’s morning.

Join us for:

  • Tales of Resilience: A Talk Story Performance: February 17, 2018, 1 p.m. | Commemorate DAY OF REMEMBERANCE. Come see America’s first Asian Storyteller discuss and perform true stories from the Incarceration. If you have a story of interracial connection to share, please speak with Brenda after the performance. Click here for photos from the eventClick here for video from the event.
  • Milagro, Talisman & Love Stories, A Story Gathering Workshop: March 10, 2018, 11:30 a.m. – 1 p.m. | This workshop is an intergenerational workshop culminating in a roundtable sharing of personal stories and artifacts. Participants, please bring small precious objects that have sustained you during your life. Come prepared to explain how you got them and why they’ve helped you. The purpose of this workshop is to gather personal stories. Stories about or that resonate with the Japanese American incarceration during WWII; stories of kismet and kindness that go beyond skin color.
  • The People of the Tags: March 17, 2018, 1 p.m. | Brenda’s stories will give dramatic testimony to the real people behind these tags. Stories she has gathered in her 42 years as a teller in the hinterlands of America; acts of bravery and human decency that can teach us strategies for navigating the turbulence of today. Click here for a short video from the end of the event.

Exhibit-related programming for Wendy Maruyama: E.O. 9066 was made possible with support from the California Civil Liberties Public Education Program at the California State Library: