Roger Shimomura papers, 1965-1990

A Finding Aid to the Roger Shimomura Papers, 1965-1990, in the Archives of American Art, by Jean Fitzgerald and Eden Orelove

Download PDF Version of this page [Download PDF Version]

Table of Contents:

Biographical Information

Roger Shimomura (b. 1939) is a Japanese-American painter, printmaker, performance artist, and teacher who has worked primarily in Kansas since 1969.

Roger Shimomura was born in 1939 in Seattle, Washington. He was a third generation Japanese-American and received his B.A. in Graphic Design from the University of Washington in 1961, and a M.F.A. in Painting from Syracuse University in 1969. Shimomura spent two childhood years in one of 10 concentration camps for Japanese-Americans during WWII, and later served as an officer in the United States Army from 1962 to 1965. He was active in the Japanese-American redress movement in the 1970s. Since the 1970s, Shimomura's work has combined American popular imagery with the Japanese ukiyo-e tradition.

He has had over 125 solo exhibitions of paintings and prints, as well as presented his experimental theater pieces at such venues as the Franklin Furnace, New York City, Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, and The Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC. Shimomura has been a visiting artist and lectured on his work at more than 200 universities, art schools, and museums across the country. Shimomura began teaching at the University of Kansas' Department of Art in 1969 and worked there until his retirement in 2004. At that time he started the Shimomura Faculty Research Support Fund, an endowment to foster faculty research in the Department of Art. Throughout his career, Shimomura has had numerous exhibitions and experimental theater pieces on a national level. In 1999, the Seattle Urban League designated a scholarship in his name that has been awarded annually to a Seattle resident pursuing a career in art. In 2002, the College Art Association presented him with the ??Artist Award for Most Distinguished Body of Work,?? for his 4 year, 12-museum national tour of the painting exhibition, ??An American Diary.?? Shimomura continues to live and work in Kansas.

Return to top

Overview of the Collection

Scope and Contents

The papers of painter, printmaker, performance artist, and teacher Roger Shimomura measure 2.6 linear feet and date from 1965 to 1990. Found within the papers are biographical materials, correspondence, writings, notes, printed material, one scrapbook, and photographs.

Biographical materials include a photograph of Shimomura and a resume. The bulk of the papers consist of correspondence files about exhibitions, grants, performances, lectures, and the Japanese-American redress movement. Correspondence is with friends, colleagues, galleries, and with universities and colleges. Correspondents include Frank Chin, Akiko Day, Jonathan R. T. Hughes, and Wayne Miller. Writings and notes include Shimomura's artist's statement, scripts to four plays, and one folder of miscellaneous notes. The papers also include clippings, exhibition announcements, catalogs and miscellaneous printed material. A scrapbook contains clippings of articles that document Shimomura's career. Photographs are of artwork by other artists.

Arrangement and Series Description

The collection is arranged as 6 series:

Subjects and Names

This collection is indexed in the online catalog of the Archives of American Art under the following terms:


  • Art--Study and teaching--Kansas--Lawrence
  • Asian American artists
  • Japanese Americans
  • Japanese Americans--Evacuation and relocation, 1942-1945
  • Japanese American painting
  • Painters--Kansas--Lawrence
  • Painting, Modern--20th century--United States
  • Performance art--United States
  • Performance artists--Kansas--Lawrence
  • Printmakers--Kansas--Lawrence

Types of Materials:

  • Photographs
  • Scrapbooks
  • Scripts(documents)


  • Chin, Frank, 1940-
  • Day, Akiko
  • Hughes, Jonathan R. T.
  • Miller, Wayne


Roger Shimomura donated his papers in 1990, as part of the Archives of American Art's Northwest Asian-American project in Seattle.

How the Collection was Processed

The Robert Shimomura papers were processed by Jean Fitzgerald in 2001. A finding aid for the collection was created by Eden Orelove in 2011.

How to Use the Collection

Restrictions on Use

Use of original papers requires an appointment.

Ownership & Literary Rights

The Robert Shimomura papers are owned by the Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution. Literary rights as possessed by the donor have been dedicated to public use for research, study, and scholarship. The collection is subject to all copyright laws.

How to Cite this Collection

Roger Shimomura papers, 1965-1990. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.

Return to top

Detailed Description and Container Inventory

Series 1: Biographical Material, 1989-1990
(Box 1; 1 folder)

Biographical material includes a photograph of Shimomura and a detailed resume.

Box Folder
1 1 Biographical Material, 1989-1990

Series 2: Correspondence, 1969-1990
(Boxes 1-3; 2.3 linear feet)

Correspondence is primarily with friends and colleagues including Frank Chin, Akiko Day, Jonathan R. T. Hughes, and Wayne Miller. Topics include the Japanese-American redress movement, lectures, performances, and exhibitions. A large portion of the correspondence is with galleries and concerns exhibitions and business matters. Other types of correspondence include grant applications and files about the exhibition "A Kansas Collection" (1986-1987) and the Seattle Transit Project (1986-1989).

Box Folder
1 2 General Correspondence, undated
1 3-20 General Correspondence, 1969-1990
(18 folders)
1 21 Akiko Day, 1986-1989
1 22-25 Frank Chin, 1978-1989
(4 folders)
1 26 John Hughes, 1984-1990
1 27 Wayne Miller, 1978-1990
1 28-44 Miscellaneous Galleries, 1965-August 1983
(17 folders)
Box Folder
2 1-5 Miscellaneous Galleries, September 1983-1987
(5 folders)
2 6 "A Kansas Collection" Exhibition, 1986-1987
2 7 Alberta College of Art, 1974-1976
2 8 Center on Contemporary Art, 1989
2 9 Cleveland State University, 1986-1988
2 10 Denver Art Museum, 1974-1976
2 11 Dobrick Gallery, 1976-1984
2 12-13 Downtown Seattle Transit Project, 1986-1989
(2 folders)
2 14 East Illinois University, 1986-1987
2 15 Elaine Horwitch Gallery, 1976-1984
2 16 Franell Gallery, Tokyo, 1975-1985
2 17 Gallery Heian, Kyoto, 1976-1977
2 18-19 Greg Kucera Gallery, 1984-1990
(2 folders)
2 20 Iowa State University, 1988-1990
2 21 Kansas City Art Institute, 1975
2 22 Kiku Gallery, 1978-1981
2 23 Locus, 1985-1988
2 24 Loyola University, 1986-1989
2 25 Memorial Union Gallery, 1975-1976
2 26 Michael Wyman Gallery, 1974-1975
2 27-28 Morgan Art Gallery, 1976-1988
(2 folders)
2 29-30 Polly Friedlander Gallery, 1973-1982
(2 folders)
2 31 Pyramid Galleries, Ltd., 1975-1987
2 32-33 Sebastian-Moore Gallery, 1977-1986
(2 folders)
2 34 University of California-Davis, 1976-1977
2 35 University of Kansas, 1973-1978
2 36 University of North Dakota, 1975
2 37 Woodside-Braseth Galleries, 1980-1984
2 38-40 Individual Sales and Inquiries, 1973-1989
(3 folders)
2 41-43 Grant Applications, 1970-1975
(3 folders)
Box Folder
3 1-11 Grant Applications, 1976-1989
(11 folders)

Series 3: Writings and Notes, 1984, 1987-1989
(Box 3; 5 folders)

Writings include Shimomura's artist's statement, scripts to "The Funky Odori", "Trans-Siberian Excerpts" (1987), "Seven Kabuki Plays Project" (1987), and "California Sushi" (1989). A single folder of notes includes an illustrated list and a list of participators in the 1984 Asian-American History Theatre Summer Workshop.

Box Folder
3 12 Artist's Statement, undated
3 13 "The Funky Odori" Script, undated
3 14 "Trans-Siberian Excerpts" Script, 1987
3 15 "Seven Kabuki Plays" Project Script, 1987
3 16 "California Sushi" Script, 1989
3 17 Miscellaneous, 1984

Series 5: Printed Material, 1975-1990
(Box 4; 0.2 linear feet)

Printed material includes clippings, exhibition announcements, catalogs, and miscellaneous printed material.

Box Folder
4 1 Exhibition Announcements and Catalogs, undated, 1975-1983
4 2 Exhibition Announcements and Catalogs, 1984-1990
4 3 Clippings, 1980-1985
4 4 Clippings, 1986-1990
4 5 Clippings, undated, 1975-1979
4 6 Miscellaneous, undated, 1976

Series 6: Scrapbook, 1975-1989
(Box 4; 1 folder)

The scrapbook series includes a compilation of photocopied articles documenting Shimomura's career from the mid 1970s until the late 1980s.

Box Folder
4 7 Scrapbook, 1975-1989

Series 7: Photographs, circa 1970s
(Box 4; 1 folder)

Photographs are of works of art by other artists.

Box Folder
4 8 Works of Art by Others, circa 1970s