The Asian Face, US Photo exhibition addresses identity issues on CRI / CNTV News

March 30, 2016

"While living in America years ago, Japanese visual artist Tomoko Sawada was often told that she "looked Korean, Chinese, or a number of other East Asian ethnicities."

That experience inspired her to launch an exhibition called Facial Signature. It is now on display in Los Angeles, California. Our reporter Patrice Howard went to take a look.

Close your eyes. Now picture a woman from Japan. Picture a woman from China. Picture a woman from Korea. You probably found it's quite impossible to imagine what a person looks like by simply by grouping them with other people who share the same background.

The fact is humans are unique, even those who come from a similar cultures or countries. And that's that point Japanese Artist Tomoko Sawada is making with her latest art exhibit. She has taken 300 self-portraits. But not one of them looks the same.

"When people see my work they talk about like, 'Oh she looks like my niece, or she looks like my friend,' They see themselves, and they also have sympathy..."

On the wall of a Los Angeles art gallery, 300 perfectly framed photos of Tomoko wearing over 100 wigs and a variety of makeup colors hang for passersby to take in.

"Usually I wear the wigs and get idea of what face she has and then I change my face by makeup."

Some show Tomoko with short hair, dark eyes and a solemn gaze. In other shots, she is smiling, with bangs. It's a reminder that differences are only skin deep.

Rose Shoshana is the owner of ROSEGALLERY, in Santa Monica California.

"99.999 percent of all of us are identical and there's one gene that makes us little bit different from the other. Walking through this exhibition of 300 images would you really be able to pick out and say for sure that's Japanese, for certain that's gotta be Malaysian. You really can't."

Rose says Tomoko realized while living in New York found that even in one of the most ethnically diverse urban environments, people tried to characterize her as being from somewhere, as someone different. With this exhibit, she is challenging those perceptions.

Rose believes the statement Tomoko is making with her exhibit - to celebrate differences - is timely in America right now.

"There are certain things Mr. Trump is saying that are so divisive so hateful. We need to respect our differences and to acknowledge and kind of celebrate the differences."

Science shows we, as humans, are more alike than we are different, and it seems Tomoko tapped into that with her Facial Signature exhibit. She says her work is simply art, but it seems here in America Tomoko's latest work about acceptance is making quite a statement.

Patrice Howard in Los Angeles for CNTV" /


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