Bumpei Usui

The piece I chose is entitled “Party on the Roof” by Bumpei Usui. Some sources tend to add Fourth of July to the title of the piece, and making note that the backdrop of this image is New York City. These 2 details seem to Americanize the image and separating it from just Asian art. By focusing on a holiday of U.S. Independence, and seeing all of the people celebrate this holiday, there is a focusing on their sense of U.S. nationalism and pride. This is a way for people to establish their place in American society. Previously, immigrants were often treated poorly for having difficulty assimilating to U.S. society. The creator might be trying to show people in this type of party setting, rejoicing for their freedom in America, so that their “alien” status is diminished. However, there are distinguishing features that emphasize the Orientalism of this artwork. For one, there are traditional Japanese and Chinese instruments on the left side. The people in the image are also sitting on the ground instead of chairs. This is a nod to many Asian countries and ethnicities that tend to sit on the ground during dinnertime, or celebrations. There is a certain struggle within this piece. The struggle seems to be retaining their history and ancestry vs. assimilating to a new society. Perhaps that is too black and white though. Maybe the artist is implying that people can retain their cultural identity while living in a new world.

Source: http://news.stanford.edu/news/2008/november12/gifs/chang_usui.jpg

Bryan Contreras

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