by Lisa Kanemoto, resident at Wesley Palms Retirement Community
I used to live in a state of inarticulate mourning. Except for my children, I had little to show. My life felt empty and without further meaning. I was a stranger to myself.
Good fortune led me to discover photography as a medium. Morrie Camhi, a photography instructor, became my mentor. His profound sense of empathy, his training and sensitive guidance, provided the trust by which I could reveal myself in a series of self-portraits. Photography became the way to explore and transform, to give face to memory, to turmoil.
Born in Germany, I grew up inhibited by the shadow of Hitler, Nazi indoctrination, terror, persecution, destruction and death. The father I cherished died in battle while in Russia.
My embittered mother and a hysterical aunt, also a war widow, raised me. A hidden Jewish background was our secret. Living in a small town, our lives enchained by deception and lies, we witnessed with horror the persecution and disappearance of our Jewish friends. To this day, wherever I go, gnawed by introspection and held back by shyness - I remain an outsider, the product of a terrible war.
A war bride to an American of Japanese ancestry I immigrated to the United States in l 958. The complexity of an East-West marriage, attending to a promising son tragically disabled by mental illness, my struggle with cancer and the acceptance of my own mortality have remained my deepest challenges.
Photography opened a path for unusual and precious friendships and has allowed me to transform the sorrows of history and present.
Lisa Kanemoto has spent her career documenting stigmatized groups such as the mentally ill, drug addicts, ethnic minorities, the gay community and the homeless. Her work has been exhibited and collected internationally www.lisakanemoto.com