Natural disasters, lethal epidemics, political upheavals, suicide bombings, refugee crises—any one of these waves of human catastrophe scream in international headlines nearly every day.
Yet, how many do we absorb before reaching our emotional limits, before moving our thoughts and prayers on to the next disaster? How can we slow down the onslaught of devastation illuminated in our news cycle to make empathy more sticky and powerful?
These are the questions that stir artist Jave Yoshimoto, an assistant professor at UNO whose exhibition of paintings and sculpture, Tempestuous Microcosm, opened at the Wanda D. Ewing Gallery at the Union for Contemporary Arts on May 16.
The themes of Yoshimoto’s work arise from his cultural connection with the 2011 tsunami in Japan’s Fukushima Prefecture, from his volunteerism in Greece assisting Syrian refugees, and with 2015 earthquake recovery efforts in Nepal.
Yoshimoto’s approach is to consider these events in microcosm by merging cellphone journalism with iconography drawn from art history, manga and social media to create Technicolor, graphic images memorializing real human drama.
His images are often aggregates of moments seen, described to or researched by the artist, and by incorporating into these contemporary events a variety of classical motifs drawn from Japanese, Greek and European art, Yoshimoto raises them to the level of history painting, long considered the most important, enduring genre in academic art.
Tempestuous Microcosm: Jave Yoshimotoruns through June 29 at the Union’s Wanda D. Ewing Gallery, located at 2423 N. 24thStreet with free public hours on Tuesday from 2-6pm, Wednesdays-Friday from noon-6pm and on Saturday from 10am-5pm. Additional information may be found at www.u-ca.org.