BOUND IN JAPAN is a community book art project about diversity.

“Japan is a homogeneous nation.” That’s a known fact, right? Well, it’s not exactly true. Did you know that Japan’s immigrant population has been increasing every year for several decades? Japan is growing into a multi-ethnic, multicultural society. This kind of growth is a challenging process, and enhancing transcultural interaction and understanding within the community is crucial.

Bound in Japan is unique since it will provide a creative forum for native and non-native Japanese residents to interact and learn from each other through the production and sharing of book art.

BOUND IN JAPAN is art, history, and storytelling—all in one!

Book art is an art object that explores the form or concept of the book. The book art produced by Bound in Japan participants will be presented as an interactive exhibition at the end of the project. This exhibition will offer both the Japanese and the international public an opportunity to re-examine Japan through the stories of the foreigners who have chosen to call it home.

BOUND IN JAPAN aims to engage 100 people in the creation of book art.

As the project aims to highlight the diversity within Japanese society, the majority of workshop participants will be non-native residents, giving them the opportunity to share the joys and challenges of living in an adopted country through the book art medium. Additionally, in the spirit of fostering exchange, a number of workshops will include participation from both native and non-native Japanese residents.

There are many local organizations in Japan that serve the non-native community and promote intercultural exchange. Bound in Japan aims to work with these organizations to coordinate workshops for their members. Participants will learn basic image-making and bookmaking skills and will be guided through both the development of a story and the execution of their book art.

Workshops are open to individuals of all artistic levels. They will be conducted in both English and Japanese.

BOUND IN JAPAN was inspired by personal experience.

The artist behind the story: Thien-Kieu Lam. Kieu was born and raised in Louisiana in a bicultural, bilingual home. The United States is her native country, but she also considers Japan home. Kieu lived in Kagoshima, Japan, for three years and has continued to visit frequently. One day she thought, “Well, what if I choose to settle in Japan? What would my life be like?” She thought about all the struggles her immigrant parents overcame, and she remembered the challenges that she faced while in Japan. That’s when she realized there’s a lot more to be done to fully connect immigrants with their Japanese communities. And, thus, Bound in Japan was born.

Kieu believes that creativity can and should be a part of everyone’s life, and she is very excited about making a social impact while engaging local communities through book art.

The BOUND IN JAPAN adventure begins in summer 2011!

Bound in Japan workshops will be held in various regions throughout Japan. Likewise, regional exhibitions will be held to present locally produced book art and to encourage direct engagement among Bound in Japan participants and their home communities.

Artist Biography

Thien-Kieu Lam’s relationship with Japan spans three years in Kagoshima as a participant of the Japan Exchange and Teaching Program (2003-2006) and more than four years working at the Embassy of Japan in Washington, DC (2006-2011). She holds a degree in fine arts and has been practicing book arts for ten years. In 2010, Kieu was a member of the steering committee for the 11th Biennial Pyramid Atlantic Book Arts Fair and Conference, and she looks forward to engaging the community in more great art events, starting with Bound in Japan in 2011.

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