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Saturday, September 30, 2023

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The exhibit explores damage caused by the tsunami in Kesennuma, Japan and the effort to rebuild. The exhibit explores damage caused by the tsunami in Kesennuma, Japan and the effort to rebuild.

Fading Memories

An exhibit at SDSU's Downtown Gallery will explore recovery plans for a city devastated by natural disasters.
By Christianne Penunuri

This semester, SDSU NewsCenter will focus on the arts with stories of the creative endeavors of our students, faculty, staff and alumni.    

In March 2011, the city of Kesennuma, Japan was destroyed by the tsunami and concurrent chemical fire that followed a 9.0 earthquake.

In January of the following year, city officials appealed to the world to assist in the rebuilding of the community by organizing a design competition.

“Fading Memories” — on display at SDSU's Downtown Gallery May 15 through September 15 — presents a representative selection of 101 urban recovery plans submitted to the City of Kesennuma as a result of the design competition. 

The exhibition examines different approaches and solutions to recovery planning and reconstruction in the aftermath of a natural disaster. Further, it examines this process through the lens of a different culture.

Rebuilding after tragedy

“I call the exhibit ‘Fading Memories’ because our minds gradually forget the horrors of a disaster such as this,” said Kotaro Nakamura, exhibition designer and interim director of the School of Art, Design and Art History at SDSU.

“The forgetting is a protective mechanism. It must happen so that we can move on but it also represents the survivors’ suffering that still continues today, which is often forgotten by the rest of us.”

The exhibit includes before-and-after images of Japan's coastline, the top 10 designs submitted to the competition and a display of jewelry created by the Nozomi Project — a social enterprise that provides sustainable income, community, dignity and hope to the women of Ishinomaki, Japan and the region by training women to craft unique jewelry.

Nozomi means “hope” in Japanese. The work presented by these artisans is created from broken pieces of pottery left in the wake of the tsunami.

One third of the women participating in the Nozomi Project are single mothers and grandmothers who lost a family member and/or their home in the 2011 disaster.

More SDSU art

Also on display will be entries from an SDSU student competition to design temporary shelters from recycled materials. The student competition was sponsored by ECOR, a company that manufactures the product which is a sustainable alternative to traditional building products.

ECOR founder and CEO, Robert Noble, designed SDSU's Parma Payne Goodall Alumni Center while he was CEO of Tucker Sadler Architects.

SDSU's Downtown Gallery is located at 725 West Broadway in San Diego. For more information, call 619-501-6370 or visit the gallery wesbite