Artist's bevy of recognitions 'a testament to his stature'

Roger Shimomura doesn't like to talk about accolades, but he has plenty to discuss.

After 25 years of teaching, Kansas University designated him a University Distinguished Professor in 1994; he was the first to be so honored in the history of the School of Fine Arts.

Last year he received one of 10 Joan Mitchell Foundation Awards given nationwide. The $15,000 cash prize was unrestricted.

"I wish it meant I could retire early," Shimomura joked last fall after hearing the news.

Carolyn Somers, executive director of the foundation, said the winners were selected from a field of 60 nominees.

"Artists who are nominated are already considered to be of a high caliber and doing a strong quality of work," she said. "His work was very highly regarded by people who look at work on a national level."

The Whitney Museum of American Art last year bought Shimomura's 12-print suite of lithographs called "Yellow No Same." And the Archives of American Art at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C., have been collecting his papers since 1990 as part of a concerted effort to strengthen its holdings of Asian-American material.

"I think you could say it's a testament to his stature that we have approached him at this young age," said Liza Kirwin, curator of manuscripts at the archives.

Shimomura has had more than 100 solo exhibitions of his paintings and prints and has presented his performance art pieces at places like the Franklin Furnace in New York City and The Smithsonian Institution.

His work can be seen in about 700 private and corporate collections in North America, Europe and Asia, including the Seattle Art Museum, the Philadelphia Museum of Art and the Phoenix Art Museum.

He has lectured on his work at more than 170 universities and art museums across the country.

Shimomura has received four National Endowment for the Arts Fellowships in painting and performance art, a McKnight Fellowship, the Kansas Governor's Artist Award, a Civil Liberties Public Education Fund Fellowship and was the first artist internationally to be awarded a Japan Foundation Grant.

He has received 20 general research grants from KU, and in 1998, he was awarded the Higuchi Research Award, the highest annual honor for a faculty member in the humanities and social sciences.

In the fall of 2002, Shimomura received the Chancellor's Club Career Teaching Award for sustained excellence in teaching and dedication to KU students.


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