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Close up photo of several fortune tellers

The Georgia Tech community is invited to experience interactive art installations that were created by Atlanta- and California-based creative partners and feature collaborations with students, faculty, and staff from the School of Literature, Media, and Communication and the Robert C. Williams Museum of Papermaking

Currently on display in the lobby of the Ferst Center for the Arts, 二度と(NI DO TO): an XR pilgrimage uses mixed-reality, digital, and hands-on interactive technologies to powerfully explore Japanese American incarceration during World War II, and offers opportunities to reflect, find connections, and forge new paths forward. 

In 2022 Georgia Tech Arts (GTA) began working with Yayoi Kambara, a choreographer whose dance company, Kambara+, originated the project; GTA then built connections across campus, part of their commitment to developing opportunities for students to engage in creative practices and to integrate art into their academic experiences. 

Kambara collaborated with School of Literature, Media, and Communication (LMC) assistant professor Ida Yoshinaga and her Special Topics students on a creative reflection about the US history of unjust ethnic minority imprisonment; a study of artifacts at the Robert C. Williams Museum of Papermaking (RCWMP) then expanded the partnership to include Jerushia Graham, RCWMP museum coordinator. Together, they engaged in creative problem-solving and developing alternative methods of communication, resulting in seven distinct designs of Origami “fortune tellers” that would become an integral component of NI DO TO.  

Yoshinaga asked her students to draw from Japanese American history, incarcerees’ stories, and cultural artifacts to capture the ethical, social, political, historical, material, and spiritual significance of the discriminatory experiences. The students then incorporated their creative writing into the design template provided by RCW; each fortune teller offers a student’s unique perspective and shares a different facet of the many stories that are to be told.  

RCWMP’s Graham reflected on the project:  

The collaboration allowed the museum to see how other departments and artists address the complex work of community engagement and navigate tough but necessary conversations around history and culture. The museum invites departments and professors to consider working with us. Collaborating can be a rich and rewarding experience; you often arrive at solutions that wouldn't otherwise present themselves without the fresh perspective of your partners.

Through these collaborations, students built community within their working groups and with the creative artists. Yoshinaga noted that “...going back 75 years in US history to understand the nature of the discrimination targeted towards Japanese Americans fostered intercultural solidarity and empathy for other communities having their civil and human rights taken away.” 

Charlie Key, a graduate student in Global Media and Cultures, was one of the participating students from Yoshinaga’s class. He shared a facet of his experience with this observation: 

I approached my research into the Densho Archives through the lens of foodways. Food carries so much cultural and personal significance and it's always fascinating to explore how people preserve their culinary customs during times of crisis. Of course, food can be manipulated to dehumanize and depress, so interview responses about the low quality of food and food that was outside of traditional gastronomy unfortunately was to be expected. … What I didn't expect was to hear the stories of resilience — of gardens started by the Japanese American internees where they organized to grow the vegetables and fruits that were central to their cultural gastronomy. … This speaks volumes about the importance of food to our sense of well-being, our individual and communal identities, and in our connection to our collective histories.

NI DO TO is free and open to the public in the lobby of the Ferst Center for the Arts through October 26. The exhibit includes an animatronic poetry machine, a dancing hologram, a video game, and a short dance film, Out of the Dust, created on location at the Manzanar internment camp. Visit the Georgia Tech Arts website for exhibit hours and more information. 

Georgia Tech Arts, in the Cabinet Area of Student Engagement & Well-Being, serves the campus community by facilitating connections with exceptional artists from around the world, and by supporting students in the development of their own creative practices. Georgia Tech Arts envisions an arts-infused campus that supports the active collaboration of art, science, and technology while providing students the creative tools, experiences, and inspiration to improve the human condition. Through a blend of performances, exhibitions, installations, residencies, and support for student and faculty creative development, Georgia Tech Arts places art at the epicenter of supporting the Strategic Objectives of the entire Institute.