Like Migratory Birds

(Watari-dori)

Like Migratory Birds

Like Migratory Birds

Watari-Dori

Like Migratory Birds

Like Migratory Birds

Watari-Dori (detail)

Like Migratory Birds

Like Migratory Birds

Watari-Dori (detail)

Like Migratory Birds

Like Migratory Birds

Watari-Dori (detail)

Like Migratory Birds

Like Migratory Birds

Watari-Dori (batik detail)

Indigo-Dyed Organza and Silk Habotai with Silkscreened Degumming Repeat and Batik

37"x 72"

2017

"Like Migratory Birds" is one of several ongoing works investigating former Internee Toru Saito's description of the Topaz Relocation Center:

Topaz seems like one big graveyard, a graveyard of broken lives, broken promises, and broken dreams. There are still many ghosts and spirits haunting the grounds of Topaz today. They hide in trenches and beneath the sagebrush. Unable to return to life as they once knew it, they remain prisoners of the decaying and rusting barbed wire fences.

Thinking about the way their community had been uprooted by the US Government, internees sometimes referred to themselves as watari-dori, or migratory birds. Colloquially, watari-dori is used to describe a migrant people, or a people without roots. "Like Migratory Birds" investigates this conflict between a people who are physically rootless but bound together by a trauma intrinsically involving a specific place. 

The process of "Like Migratory Birds" focuses on building up surface and layer only to strip it back again, bringing new information to light. Indigo dyeing is intimately related to time in that the depth of color achieved is not built from the concentration of the pigment but rather how many times the fabric is dipped and then exposed to the air. The fabric started at a deep blue-black, then was screened with degumming paste in a repeat pattern created from video stills of the cracked earth in Topaz. The degumming process strips color in addition to altering the structure of the fabric. The fabric then returned to the indigo bath, each round introducing more layers of batik-ed imagery. When the color became deep again, a final layer of batik was applied and then placed in a color-remover bath. This is how the seemingly additive effect was achieved in Image 5.