Nov 3rd 2018

Please join us on Saturday, November 3 at noon, for a conversation in the gallery between exhibiting artist Michael Koerner, Saira Chambers, Director of the Japanese Culture Center, and Professor Yuki Miyamoto, a nuclear ethicist at DePaul University. The discussion will explore how contemporary artists like Koerner tackle the concept of Gaman (我慢), a Japanese term of Zen Buddhist origin that means “enduring the seemingly unbearable with patience and dignity. It is often taught to youth and largely used by older Japanese generations. Showing gaman is seen as a sign of maturity and strength. Keeping your problems and complaints silent, demonstrates strength and politeness as others have seemingly larger problems as well [1].” Artists like Koerner break this ideology, creating a conflict between his cultural heritage and his need to examine the effects that the atomic bomb had on his family.

Michael Koerner: My DNA opens November 2 and runs through December 22, 2018. Koerner’s 6 x 8” tintypes seduce the viewer with glistening deep blacks, metallic silvers, and odd green, yellow and blue hues, to talk about disease. By blowing through a straw, or dripping chemicals from an eyedropper onto tin plates, Koerner manipulates collodion to create sunbursts, explosions, amorphous shapes, and double helixes, all of which reference his family history. This will be the final exhibition in our River North location. After 31 years in the same building, Catherine Edelman Gallery is relocating to join fellow gallerists in West Town. We look forward to welcoming the public to our new space at 1637 W. Chicago Ave., in March 2019.

See the entire exhibition on our website here.

[1] Johnson, Frank A. (1995) Dependency and Japanese Socialization

About the panelists:

Michael Koerner (Okinawa, Japan, 1963) is the oldest of five brothers. Due to genetic abnormalities and cancer, he is the only remaining living son. His brothers’ fates (and potentially his own one day) can be linked to their mother, who was eleven years old on August 9, 1945 when the atomic bomb was dropped on Nagasaki. She lived in Sasebo, Japan, 45 miles away from the blast. The long-term effects of severe, acute exposure to gamma radiation led to his mother’s death at an early age, and all of his brothers. Koerner’s work explores his family history and genetics through small tintypes, using photographic chemistry to assimilate the bursts and biochemical fallout from the atom bomb.

Michael Koerner is an organic chemist currently teaching at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He started showing his tintypes less than two years ago, and is part of numerous collections including the Sir Elton John Collection (Atlanta, GA), Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art(Kansas City, MO) and the Norton Museum of Art (West Palm Beach, FL). We are honored to present his first solo exhibition and believe it is a fitting way to close out our 31 years in River North.

Saira Chambers, Director of the Japanese Culture Center of Chicago, and founding Director of the Japanese Arts Foundation, earned a BA in Art History and Japanese Studies prior to completing an MFA in Arts Leadership. Her academic and professional career has focused on nuclear nonproliferation as expressed through the arts. Saira has worked and studied in Hiroshima, Japan, while organizing art exhibitions and events in the United States exploring our nuclear past, present, and future.

Yuki Miyamoto earned her PhD from the University of Chicago (ethics; Divinity School). Her work centers around nuclear discourse—a monograph, Beyond the Mushroom Cloud: Commemoration, Religion, and Responsibility after Hiroshima, and several articles (“In the Light of Hiroshima: Banalizing Violence and Normalizing Experiences of the Atomic Bombing,” and “Gendered Bodies in Tokusatsu: Reproduction and Representation of the Atomic Bomb Victims” and so on). With her colleagues at the University of Chicago, she has managed a website The Atomic Age and organized the five symposia of the Atomic Age. She has led six study-abroad programs to Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and has served as Nagasaki Peace Correspondent (2011) and Hiroshima Peace Ambassador (2012). She teaches in the Department of Religious Studies at DePaul University.

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