October 2009

Osamu James Nakagawa & LeAnne Hitchcock

Newspace Center for Photography is pleased to present an exhibition of photographs by recent Guggenheim Fellowship recipient Osamu James Nakagawa and Portland artist LeAnne Hitchcock during the month of October. The exhibition is sponsored in part by the Kinsman Foundation, Regional Arts and Culture Council, Multnomah County Cultural Coalition, and the Oregon Cultural Trust.

Both artists will be giving a special artist’s talk on the 3rd of October. Don’t miss this chance to hear two wonderful photographers discuss their work and methods. The talk is free and open to the public.


[artist website]

In Okinawa, the precipitous cliffs that fall hundreds of feet to the ocean below are called banta. For years Mr. Nakagawa has carried a vivid memory of the first time he stood atop those cliffs – a memory of beauty in the endless blue expanse of sea and sky intensified by the fearsome height and history that met his downward gaze.

Five years later this memory drove him to revisit and descend those very cliffs. Standing at their feet for the first time, feeling the cliffs’ full visceral weight, something so powerful that he was initially unable to take even a single photograph. The shadows seeping from the cliffs’ surface, the white craters riddling the cliffs’ coral limestone, and the charred black caves were stark reminders of all that these cliffs had witnessed.

The Okinawan banta cliffs are also known as “Suicide Cliffs” because of the large number of Okinawans who took their own lives there immediately prior to and during the Battle of Okinawa in 1945.

Osamu James Nakagawa was born in New York City; raised in Tokyo, Japan and returned to Houston, Texas at the age of 15. He received a Bachelor of Arts from the University of St. Thomas Houston in 1986 and a Master of Fine Arts from the University of Houston in 1993. Currently, Nakagawa is an associate professor of photography at Indiana University.

Nakagawa’s work has shown nationally and internationally at SEPIA International Inc. New York, McMurtrey Gallery, Houston, Houston Center for Photography, Corcoran Museum of Fine Arts, Washington D.C., and the Tokyo Metropolitan Museum of Photography. His work is in the permanent collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, The International Museum of Photography at George Eastman House; Tokyo Metropolitan Museum of Photography, Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, The Museum of Contemporary Photography Chicago and others.

Nakagawa received a 2009 Guggenheim Fellowship to support his project in Okinawa.


LeAnne Hitchcock’s photographs are an exploration of traditional artistic themes to create a relevant contemporary cultural mythology. These themes range from the bucolic to the religious, inviting the viewer to contemplate the role of art in everyday life and philosophy.

While the title of this show plays on the groundbreaking images of Cartier-Bresson, this series addresses the theme of choice by coupling images from classic films, made with a homemade pinhole camera, and photographic color fields. The image of the film star has replaced that of the religious icon as the harbinger of moral dilemmas, and subsequently the subjects here are chosen at a moment that indicates a character’s conflict or revelation within a film plot. The contrasting color fields (derived from various subjects) are used to point to the elements of choice. As color has an emotional reality of its own, the viewer will be left with an impression based on individual color responses. The configurations are meant to allow the viewer to ‘enter’ the work as a person might pass through a doorway.

Ms. Hitchcock’s artworks have been exhibited in solo and group exhibitions throughout the United States and in Europe, including The Friends of Photography, SF, CA; Boston Art Inc., Boston, MA; and The Nathan Commings Foundation, NY, NY; The Anchorage, Brooklyn, NY; PS 122 Museum Queens, NY; The International Center of Photography, NY, and the Center of Photographic Arts in CA. Her work is in public, private, and corporate collections, including The World Studio Foundation, The Calumet Collection and Neiman Marcus Collections, and MuseĀ«e de la Photographie Belgique. She is also the recipient of the Koening Art Award for use of color composition in painting and was a finalist for the James Phelan Award in Photography and The Center of Photographic Arts Award. Recently she was the recipient of a RACC grant.

In addition to exhibitions of her personal work, LeAnne Hitchcock is a dedicated art educator having taught for numerous educational institutions, including The San Francisco Art Institute, SF Camerawork, The Magnes Museum, The World Studio Foundation, The Friends of Photography, Lewis and Clark College, and the Pacific Northwest College of Art. She received her BFA from The San Francisco Art Institute and a Master’s degree from New York University and the International Center of Photography.