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ageless mezzotints
impermanence mezzotints


arboretum mezzotints


other mezzotints





ageless mezzotints



12.5 x 10.5 in.

Toyoko, 2008

A few facts about my grandmother:

She liked persimmons. She loved to garden. She could kill a chicken with her bare hands. She saved string and rubber bands and sometimes used the same napkin for several days in a row. When we called her on the telephone on Sundays, the line was often busy. Her English, though not perfect, was good. She was born in 1900 in Kagoshima, Japan, the fifth of six daughters. She was not the prettiest daughter. She was not the smartest. Nor was she her mother’s favorite. Her father, a Methodist preacher, did not want her to marry. She had one brother – handsome, smart, much loved – who died of tuberculosis at 21. In 1929 she bribed a customs official with five pounds of sugar and left for America. In 1930 she married Shigeharu Nozaka, the general manager of an import-export company in San Francisco. On December 8, 1941, he was arrested by the FBI as a suspected spy for Japan. Several months later she and her two children were removed from their home in Berkeley, California and sent to an internment camp in Topaz, Utah. They returned to Berkeley at the end of the war, in 1945, and for the next 30 years she worked as a domestic. Every evening, on her way home from work, the bus driver would drop her off in front of her house, even though this was not a scheduled stop on his route. She was widowed in 1970 and moved to a retirement home in 1988. On moving day, the following items were found in her fireplace: a pair of long white gloves, a white wedding veil, and a box of letters her husband had written to her during the first year of the war. Nothing was burned. She died twelve years later, in 2000, in a nursing home in Gardena, California. She was almost 101 years old. She never returned to Japan.


Julie Otsuka