The downtown Park Trades Center was bustling on Friday night for Kalamazoo’s monthly Art Hop where Kalamazoo College students unveiled a two-part Art Hop show. Expressions of resistance filled the Kalamazoo College Community Studio–a collaborative exhibit facilitated by the Coalition for Reproductive Justice and the Okinawan research group.
Hannah Berger ‘18 of the Okinawan research group explained, “Last summer, three Kalamazoo College students–me, Emerson Brown, and Frank Meyer–along with our professor Dr. Frost, went to Okinawa, Japan, which is an island off of the southern coast of Japan that hosts 75 percent of United States military bases in Japan.” Berger emphasized the “burden” that this place on Okinawa Island, which makes up for a mere one percent of the country’s landmass.
“The spring of my freshman year, Dr. Frost taught a class called ‘Occupiers and Occupied’, which focused on the occupations of East Asian countries,” Berger said. When an opportunity arose to apply for a travel grant to Asia, Frost approached Berger, Brown, and Meyer, asking if they would be interested in spending three weeks abroad. “We spent sophomore year writing the grant [and] we eventually got accepted… It was the most exciting thing I’ve ever done in college for sure,” Berger said. It was through this opportunity that the exhibit “A Keystone to Resistance?” was born.
“The project was inspired by the Okinawan resistance to these bases, and what we wanted to do was document that resistance in the form of protests, rallies, and intellectual resistance,” Berger explained. “What we wanted to do was bring it back to an American audience to show how we’re all kind of complicit in the fate of the Okinawan people because, for example, our tax dollars fund the United States military, that funds these bases, that’s causing all kinds of economic, environmental, and social harming of Okinawa.” Berger concluded, “We just all put a ton of work into this and we’re so happy to share it with all of you.”
We’re all kind of complicit in the fate of the Okinawan people.
Seniors Jessie Hansen and Anja Xheka spearheaded the second part of the two-show exhibit, “Expanding Consciousness of Reproductive Justice”. Hansen explained that the exhibit “aims to “broaden discussion of reproductive justice in the community and in the art world. We had the idea to put out an open call for work for students so they can express themselves and their relation and interactions with gender and reproductive justice and all that entails.”
“Something we often talk about in CRJ is the definition of reproductive justice and how that’s a personal thing, and how that should be a lot broader and [more] intersectional past just abortion access,” Xheka added. “All the works here are students’ personal definitions of reproductive justice, so we hope that’s broadening voices of that topic.”