Jave Yoshimoto, an art professor at the University of Nebraska at Omaha, has been nominated for the Omaha Entertainment & Arts award for best 2-D artist.
Taking action through art, he has maintained an active role in local and global communities.
While he appreciates the nomination, Yoshimoto isn’t too worried about the outcome. His hope is that if he does happen to win, he could use it as a platform to help educate and bring further awareness to causes around the world.The nomination does give a spot-light to the UNO professor with an interesting background and an impressive story to be told.
Yoshimoto was born in Tokyo, Japan. At 9 years old he immigrated to California with his parents where he spent most of his early life before heading to New York and Chicago for graduate programs.
Yoshimoto’s first teaching job was at Northwest Oklahoma State University, a school of 1,600 students and one very small art department. As the sole operator of the university’s “one person” art program, he was responsible for teaching all art classes.
His decision to move to UNO was fueled by his desire for a larger art community. He said that being around other art professors gives him the opportunity to discuss personal practices and teaching methods with colleagues.
“I like teaching on a personal level with people that care,” Yoshimoto said. “It’s was a nice change of pace.”
Yoshimoto continues to work on art projects and considers himself a practicing professional. He believes that becoming a better artist makes him a better teacher.
Much of Yoshimoto’s art deals with humanitarian crisis across the globe. This has included the devastation in Japan from earthquakes and more recently, the refugee crisis unfolding in Syria and surrounding nations.
To get closer to the subject matter, Yoshimoto applied for a grant that allowed him to spend time traveling to areas impacted by disaster and lend a helping hand. The grant allowed him to travel to Nepal and Greece to meet those impacted.
During his time overseas, he was given a chance to meet with earthquake survivors firsthand and help refugees off boats in Greece. Yoshimoto said that he would work through language barriers to help give blankets and meals to those arriving in a new land.
“It was the first time I really questioned who I was as a person and also as an artist,” Yoshimoto said. “Am I doing the right thing? Am I doing enough to help people?”
His current art series has emphasized his experiences from helping those caught up in the refugee crisis impacting the Middle East and Europe. To provide extra help through his art, Yoshimoto always makes sure to provide helpful information alongside his art or donate to help fund a cause.
One community project in which Yoshimoto has taken part is the Horse of Honor Omaha art campaign, which consisted of several local artists working to produce horse statues honoring fallen police officers. One horse from the project stands in front of the Weber Fine Arts Building, but the one made by Yoshimoto is in front of an Omaha police station.
Those interested in seeing more of Yoshimoto’s art can find information on his website, javeyoshimoto.com.