Event—Public Programming

Jun Fujita: American Visionary


In this curator talk, Katherine Litwin, Fred Sasaki, and Graham Lee will give visitors a behind-the-scenes overview of the development of our winter exhibition, Jun Fujita: American Visionary.

Co-presented by the Newberry and the Poetry Foundation, Jun Fujita, American Visionary focuses on the extraordinary accomplishments of poet and photojournalist Jun Fujita. An expanded version of Jun Fujita: Oblivion, first mounted at the Poetry Foundation in 2017, the exhibition explores Fujita’s poetry, photojournalism, landscape photography, and uncommon life.

Born outside of Hiroshima in 1888, Fujita came to Chicago in 1909, becoming the first Japanese American photojournalist in the city. As an English-language tanka poet, he published regularly in Poetry during the 1920s; as a photographer, he captured many of the most famous moments in Chicago history, including the Eastland Disaster, the 1919 race riots, and the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre.

Throughout his work, Fujita put forward a vision of what “American” can mean, achieving unprecedented success in his profession despite the hostility, prejudice, and persecution he faced as a Japanese native.

Speakers’ Bios:

Fred Sasaki is Art Director for Poetry magazine and the Poetry Foundation’s Exhibitions Co-curator. He edited Who Reads Poetry (University of Chicago Press, 2017) with Don Share and Jun Fujita: Oblivion (Poetry Foundation, 2017) with Katherine Litwin. He also publishes Sasaki Family Zines with his closest friends and collaborates with Homeroom Chicago and the Prison + Neighborhood Art Project.

Katherine Litwin is Library Director and Exhibitions Co-curator for the Poetry Foundation. She edited Jun Fujita: Oblivion (Poetry Foundation, 2017) with Fred Sasaki.

Graham Lee is a writer, graphic designer, and the great nephew of Jun Fujita. Lee spent the last five years researching Fujita’s life, retracing his great uncle’s footsteps, and creating a story that combines a rich family history with historical and personal photographs of extraordinary Chicago events.

This event is made possible by a major grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. It is being held in conjunction with the Newberry’s current exhibition, Jun Fujita: American Visionary. The exhibition and this program are co-sponsored by the Poetry Foundation.

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