Japanese Canadian Artist Directory

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Japanese Canadian Artist Directory

The Japanese Canadian Artist Directory is an online resource of artists with Japanese Canadian heritage and/or connections to the Japanese Canadian community. It is an expanding repository with hundreds of profiles for artists both past and present. It is operated by the Powell Street Festival Society and was created in partnership with the Japanese Canadian Cultural Centre and the National Association of Japanese Canadians.


As editorial committee member Sally Ito explains, the directory was created with a twofold purpose: to "look backwards, acknowledging the artists of the past [...] who should have a digital presence – a footprint, as it were – for a generation who would look first to the digital before digging deeper into books and archives" and to "provide a networking hub for current practicing and emerging artists in search of community" ("The Art of Being Japanese Canadian") . The directory has a mandate to include artists of all disciplines, and to allow for self-identification with the term Japanese Canadian. This means that all artists who consider themselves Japanese Canadian are considered Japanese Canadian by the editorial committee. In addition, artists who are not Japanese Canadian by heritage, but whose work has made a meaningful contribution to Japanese Canadian arts and culture, are included both as legacy and contemporary artists. Self-submitting artists of other than Japanese Canadian heritage are encouraged to explain their connection to the Japanese Canadian community as part of their submission.

The directory is adjudicated with a mind towards inclusivity by the Powell Street Festival Society and the editorial committee which includes members from all three founding partner organizations, listed above. Contemporary artists may create and update their profiles on the website, and anyone may submit a profile on behalf of a "legacy artist" who is no longer active by contacting the directory's administrator.

Project background[edit]

The Japanese Canadian Artist Directory was created as an online update to a print directory, Japanese Canadians in the Arts, compiled by Aiko Suzuki and published in 1994. Discussion and consultation for the project began in 2016, and editorial meetings, research, and website design occurred in 2017. Editorial committee members from Vancouver, Winnipeg, and Toronto met regularly online in order to provide a nationwide perspective in the creation of the website. Initial research for the directory included reaching out to artists listed in the 1994 directory and inviting them to submit updated profiles, forming the core of the website's legacy component. The website went live with a soft launch in the summer of 2017, with some 300 artist profiles compiled during a research phase, and an online interface that allows artists to register and submit their profiles directly to the website. The Japanese Canadian Artist Directory was officially launched in September 2017 at the National Association of Japanese Canadians' 2017 AGM and Conference in Ottawa.