20110307

a portrait series of yuri kochiyama

I discovered Yuri Kochiyama after reading The Autobiography of Malcolm X.  I forget if she is mentioned in the book, or if I found her in my subsequent web surfing.  She has since become one of my personal heros.  Her practice of social justice and equality is who I have modeled my life after.  

Her incarceration in WWII concentration camps to life in Harlem, NY
Her biography Heartbeat of a Struggle was life-changing for me.  It inspired me to move to Atlanta and pick up a life of social worker and intentional community.  (I have since realized that a life of grass roots organizing and working in neighborhoods is no joke...) 

In this series of drawings, I was trying to capture aspects of Yuri's life that continue to challenge me.    

Yuri's letter-writing campaign from Nisei soldiers to political prisoners, like Marilyn Buck
To remind myself that Yuri started off as a mother, a quite-innocent and maybe quite ignorant of political issues, before she came into her life as revolutionary political activist.
Alex's version of Yuri
Notice her fist is most of the drawings.  She means business, people.  
Revolution doesn't come overnight, or very easily.  
Keep on keepin' on.

The sketch version of Yuri, featured in Colorish Dreams: blogzine

1, 2, 3, 5 by a'misa chiu
4 by alex chiu and a'misa chiu


Yuri's personal papers were donated to UCLA Asian American Special Collections.  
More research projects on inspiring women of color need to be made.  Other note-worthy workers are Grace Lee Boggs, Aiko Herzig-Yoshinaga, Tomie Arai, Stacey Ann Chin, bell hooks, etc.