Faculty Reading Recommendations

Lynne Yamamoto, Associate Professor of Art

Lynne Yamamoto joined the Art Department at Smith in 2003. In her artwork, she uses materials to evoke an emotional memory that speaks to a larger social and historical context. Past projects have dealt with the dangerous manipulation of the cherry blossom as a wartime symbol in Japan, and the conflicted history of the pineapple as exotic status symbol and plantation commodity fruit. She has had one-person shows at The Contemporary Museum, Honolulu; articule, Montreal; P.S. 1 Contemporary Art Center; Greg Kucera Gallery/George Suyama Architect Space, Seattle; Whitney Museum of American Art at Philip Morris; RISD Museum of Art; Mattress Factory, Pittsburgh; and P.P.O.W., New York;. She has received numerous awards and grants including Diverse Forms Artists' Projects, NYFA Artist-in-Residence Program, Anonymous Was A Woman, Asian Arts Council, Creative Capital Foundation, Penny McCall Foundation, LEF Foundation, and the Joan Mitchell Foundation. She has a permanent work in the Seattle Central Library. She is currently working on a feature documentary in collaboration with Lucretia Knapp. For more information, see Lynne Yamamoto's web page.

Q. What are three books in your field that you feel are most helpful/interesting for lay readers who want to learn more?

Draw it with your eyes closed: the art of the art assignment edited by Paper Monument.
This readable and often funny book provides an inside look at both memorable and not so memorable art lessons. Contributors were asked to share an art lesson that they assigned, or were given, or heard of. Some examples provide insight into the teaching minds of a number of artists. Others reveal an insight or a cautionary tale from an artist's student years.

Practices of Looking: An Introduction to Visual Culture, 2nd ed. by Marita Sturken and Lisa Cartwright.
The 2nd edition was published in a textbook size, so by physical scale feels more institutional than it's predecessor. But it is an excellent and well-organized introduction to key concepts in thinking about visual culture. In a nutshell, how do we (learn to) read, analyze and respond to the images we are constantly surrounded by?

The Poetics of Space by Gaston Bachelard.
This book invites you to follow Bachelard's ruminations on how spaces (for example, nests, attics, etc.) inspire thought and reverie. It is a pleasure to read, and pick up again and again.

Women Artists in the 20th and 21st Century by Uta Grosenick.
Women Artists are Artists, so the fact of this book is somewhat problematic. However, it is a useful and beautifully illustrated book to thumb through to get a quick introduction to some of the key figures in the contemporary art world.

Q. What books have influenced your life?

Many books have influenced me, but here is a sampling from different periods in my life.

Out There: Marginalization and Contemporary Cultures ed. by Russell Ferguson, Martha Gever, Trinh T. Minh-ha and Cornel West.
Many of the essays in this collection made an indelible impression on me: Toni Morrison's "The Site of Memory," that ends with the beautiful passage about the relationship between imagination and memory, the straightened Mississippi River's flooding being its remembering of where it had been; John Yau's "Please Wait By the Coatroom," which analyzes MoMA's denial of Wilfredo Lam's (Cuban-born, of Chinese and Afro-Cuban parents) rightful place in the History of Modern Art along with the major Euro-American artists of his generation (Lam's painting, "The Jungle," hung near the coatroom, rather than within the main galleries at MoMA, for many years).

In the Realm of a Dying Emperor: Japan at Century's End by Norma Field.
I read this book shortly before traveling to Japan to research WWII remembrance, which led to an installation called Resplendent. One of the chapters discusses the letters written in support of Nagasaki Mayor Hitoshi Motoshima, who, as Emperor Hirohito lay on his deathbed, suggested that the monarch should have borne some responsibility for the war. It was a controversial statement; Motoshima received death threats from right-wing conservatives (and was shot, though not fatally), along with some 7,300 letters of support from all over the country. These letters from people of many generations reflected how deep and complex were the memories of World War II.

Aloha Betrayed: Native Hawaiian Resistance to American Colonialism by Noenoe K. Silva.
This book is an example of the powerful and transformational current work by Native Hawaiian scholars. Silva contests the notion that Native Hawaiians passively accepted their fate, of losing their nation to the American elite who dominated the political and economic sphere at the end of the 19th century. By an exhaustive study of mainly Hawaiian language newspapers, Silva describes a Native populace that actively organized against and resisted domination by U.S. interests. I was born and raised in Hawai'i. Because I return often, this book reminded me that histories continue to be re-written there.

Q. What are you reading now?

I am currently reading Japanese Diasporas: unsung pasts, conflicting presents, and uncertain furtures, ed. by Nobuko Adachi, as my current project (a collaboration with Lucretia Knapp) deals with memory, family and resilience.