On May 9, 1943, a Japanese American named Kiyoshi Kuromiya was born in the Heart Mountain detention camp, where both Japanese people and Japanese Americans were forcibly incarcerated. Though he passed away in 2000 at the age of 57 as a result of complications of AIDS, his work as an activist continues to be recognized and appreciated today. He was an anti-War, gay liberation and HIV/AIDS activist, and Civil Rights organizer. One of his famous quotes is: "We cannot afford to be silent or complacent when it comes to injustice."
Martin Luther King, Jr. and Kuromiya were close friends. After King’s murder, Kiyoshi Kuromiya participated in the upbringing of Dr. King's children. In addition, he participated in the founding of the Gay Liberation Front, attended the Black Panther Convention as an openly gay delegate, and taught a course on gay rights at the Black Panther's Revolutionary conference. He also participated in lots of protests for gay rights. He was extremely involved with ACT-UP/Philadelphia, PWA empowerment, We the People Living with HIV/AIDS, and other associations which fought for the rights and equality of people with HIV/AIDS. To enable internet access and information distribution for those with HIV/AIDS, he would set up networks of computers for people. As an advocate for therapy and a participant in clinical studies, he was active locally, nationally, and worldwide in AIDS research. He was also a pioneer in the battle for safeguarding online speech rights, and was involved in a successful lawsuit against the Communications Decency Act.
To me, Kiyoshi Kuromiya was a person who merits respect. I decided to honor him with my Wayfinder.
I made the decision to highlight his efforts and contributions for my Wayfinder through various means. I created a background using colored paper in the transgender and the LGBTQ flag's colors. On top of it is an image of Kiyoshi Kuromiya along with his quote: “Freedom comes with responsibilities.” I chose this quote because in my opinion, it captures the essence of what it means to be an activist. Kiyoshi wouldn't have been successful as an activist if he wasn't responsible and committed to his work. In order to demonstrate his engagement as an HIV/AIDS activist, I chose to include the red ribbon. The monument's handle is painted black and includes a braided thread in a rainbow of colors. Once more, this is done to recognize him as a member of the LGBTQ+ community who made significant contributions in the battle for intersectional LGBTQ rights.
Courtesy Critical Path Project
I spent most of the first week of the summit going on field trips with my classmates and teachers. I visited Chloe Bass' Soft Services on the first day. I got the opportunity to see several stone memorials there. Later that day, using the words and the texture of the stone I selected, I came up with my own wayfinding image. The following day we investigated George Washington's racist monument at the University of Washington. The choice regarding what to do with the memorial was put to me in the afternoon. I made the decision to disassemble it and turn it into a memorial tree where people can hang their wishes and thoughts. A visit to the AIDS Memorial Pathway was the focus on our third day. With the help of the different monuments and artistic expressions, I was able to understand more about AIDS and the activist movements that surround it. The visit to the Living Memorial Bonsai was scheduled for the final day of the week. This monument honors those who were imprisoned Japanese and Japanese Americans. The Japanese tradition and culture of Bonsai is a potent tool for people who are being wrongly imprisoned by the US to use in their struggle for social justice.
My sketchbook is filled with of my processes, as well as my goals and laborious efforts from the summit. It makes me feel good while gazing at it. The removal of racist monuments from the George Washington Statue is one of my works of art. Another was the water color of a Bonsai tree, which pushed me outside of my comfort zone using watercolor. My first day's art was an etching from a stone in Chloe Bass’ Wayfinding installation, Soft Services. Finally, you will see my plan for my Kiyoshi Kuromiya Wayfinder and my memory map of the AIDS Memorial Pathway.
My name is Celine (she/her) Class of 2024
I like listening to music, surfing the internet and watching fun videos in Tiktok. I mostly dedicate my time to sleeping and eating though. This is my very first year at the NWS and also my first time participating in summits. I’m glad I chose Making Monuments as my summit since I got chances to make new friends, show my potential, and learn about monuments.
Thank you to James Blake for making our Wayfinders.
Thank you to Julia Freeman and Kate Boyd for doing such a great job in leading the summit and teaching us about monuments. I really appreciate your help.
Thank you to Conner Virzi for supporting me when I need help and being a great editor. You did such a great job. I wish you the best with next year.