Dona Fujiko Nabata
Birth place: Vancouver, B.C.
I identify as Japanese Canadian. As far back as I can remember, I have always identified as ‘other’ and not part of the mainstream. Even as a child, I was always an observer. Later, I used my ethnicity as the reason for my inability to wholeheartedly accept the status quo. I knew I could not blend in because I looked so different, and I was quiet and soft spoken. I envied my Caucasian friends who were light and free and entitled to all life has to offer. When I discovered Japan as a young adult, many of my questions were answered. I found that without conscious intention, I had internalized aspects of Japanese culture from my parents. Though they were born and spent their lives in Canada, their values and actions were very Japanese. Simple things, such as self aggrandizement, is frowned upon in Japanese culture, but is applauded in Western culture. It was hard for me to switch back and forth, but sometimes a quick about face is necessary to survive. It was an unspoken understanding that as an Asian minority you should not call attention to yourself for fear of repercussion. As an artist, I have a place to position the self-awareness, observation, illustration, and curation, of my predicament. By exhibiting work as an artist, you call attention to yourself, but you take responsibility for each piece produced. Funnily, now, as an artist, I finally feel as heady as my Caucasian friends did in their youth. I feel like I am held up by the depth of my ancestry. My story matters, and the time is ripe for me to tell it.