The paintings of Colorado Springs artist Margaret Kasahara, the first-generation American daughter of Japanese immigrants, are as neatly arranged as a bento box, often featuring cultural symbols juxtaposed in cleanly delineated, black-outlined partitions. And not unlike the bento, each compartment sports a cross-cultural flavor all its own, creating a metaphor for the Asian-American sensibility versus Anglo perceptions: pop culture here, exoticism there, old-world traditions combating Western ideas in constant proximity. Drawn from manga comics, Japanese woodblock prints, traditional toys and their modern commercial counterparts, food imagery and more, they are pictures both meditative and amusing, each a wink that says so much without wasting words. We all feel like outsiders at one point or another in life, Kasahara says of the Asian-American experience she lives each day. You can be cruising along in your own life until someone says something, and you have to think, You see me differently. These works are her way of grappling with her own dual identity.
Kasaharas cultural reflections will dominate Role Models, an exhibit of her work that opens today at the Sandra Phillips Gallery, 744 Santa Fe Drive, with a reception from 6 to 8 p.m. The show continues through July 3; for information, go to www.thesandraphillipsgallery.com or call 303-573-5969.
May 14-July 3, 2010