The Gregory Allicar Museum of Art and Center for Fine Art Photography, in collaboration with Colorado State University’s Asian Pacific American Cultural Center, recently announced a new exhibition featuring five projects by visual artist Kei Ito. The Beginning, in the land around me presents work completed between 2020 and 2023 that occupy GAMA’s Griffin Foundation Gallery and witness shared nuclear histories. Ito’s solo show is on view from Wednesday, Jan. 18 to April 2, 2023, with an onsite gallery tour on Thursday, Jan. 19 and a virtual artist talk scheduled for March 1. The exhibition and related programming are free and open to all.
Kei Ito is a Japan-born, East Coast-based visual artist with an MFA from Maryland Institute College of Art who currently teaches at the International Center of Photography in New York City. Through the experimental processes of camera-less photography and installation art, Ito negotiates intergenerational connection and loss, using his own ancestry as “a case study for contemporary and future events.” Ito’s work is formed by his own nuclear heritage as a third generation hibakusha — atomic bomb victim — a legacy and trauma inherited from his late grandfather, who survived the United States’ atomic bombing of Hiroshima, Japan in 1945.
The projects comprising The Beginning converge on Ito’s familial history and his current status as a U.S. immigrant. They also expand on the artist’s exploration of and research into the experiences of “downwinders” (persons living downwind of a nuclear test site or reactor). By creating an immersive environment to consider the shared pasts and harms that both hibakusha and downwinders have suffered as a result of nuclear weapons, Ito transforms the gallery into a monument for the past and present.
“This exhibition is the result of years of work, a partnership with C4FAP, and a lifetime spent listening to the horrors experienced by people of various nationalities and stances,” Ito said. “The Beginning, in the land around me brings together these voices for our collective prayer for the future: ‘Never again.’”
The Beginning and related programming are also presented through a partnership between C4FAP and GAMA.
“Kei Ito’s work delves deep into the nuclear legacy that we all live with,” said Hamidah Glasgow, exhibition curator and C4FAP director. “Whether from his perspective as a descendant of a Hiroshima survivor, or from downwinders in the American southwest, Ito’s questioning tells us that the responsibility for nuclear weapons lies with everyone. How will we respond?”
Visitors are invited to join GAMA, C4FAP and APACC in the ongoing discussion of nuclear weapons and surrounding issues such as health, environmentalism and global systems of war and peace. The Beginning, in the land around me opens to the public on Jan. 18, and Ito will be on campus for a free, artist-led gallery tour on Thursday, Jan. 19 at 5 p.m., followed by a reception with food and drink. Ito will also give a virtual artist talk on March 1 at 5 p.m.
Other Spring 2023 GAMA and C4FAP events will also reference themes from The Beginning. The museum will partner with CSU School of Music faculty and students again for a “Peace & Protest” Music in the Museum Concert Series program in March, supported by DATA (Denver-area Art-Alumni Transforming the Arts) for GAMA at CSU. Visitors are encouraged to check back with Gregory Allicar and the Center in the new year for additional programming. Events are free and open to all, but registration is required.
Support for The Beginning, in the land around me has been generously provided by the FUNd Endowment at CSU, Colorado Creative Industries and the National Endowment for the Arts.
Gregory Allicar Museum of Art
Gregory Allicar Museum of Art invites individuals to engage with art and each other to inspire fresh perspectives and wonder. The museum is a catalyst for visual literacy and critical thinking that instills a passion for learning. For updated museum information, go to artmuseum.colostate.edu.