We the Ancestors
Kenji Hamai Stoll and Erin Shigaki
We the Ancestors, 2022
Acrylic paint + digital on aluminum composite
This mural was created to preserve and honor the legacy and stories of the Japanese American community. The iconic imagery includes references to immigration, World War II incarceration, rebuilding of the community, reclamation and present day life. During this current wave of civil unrest, racism, anti-Asian violence and xenophobia, the mural stands as a testament to the resiliency and persistence of a community. We hope that each person who sees this work can find a small piece of inspiration or connection to their own history. The title “We the Ancestors” is a reference to the preamble to the U.S. Constitution. From our perspective, it is a reminder and recognition of our duty as human beings to do our part to preserve the stories that mark Asian American history, strengthen communities, and to continue to work toward social justice, healing and liberation for all people.
We are humbly grateful to our community partner Japanese Culture and Community Center of Washington, our families, this community, and our ancestors.
—Kenji Hamai Stoll & Erin Shigaki
This project was made possible by funding from the National Academy of Design/Edwin Austin Abbey Memorial Trust Fund for Mural Painting in the United States.