One of my most enjoyable professional experiences was curating the exhibition of contemporary origami, Folding Paper: The Infinite Possibilities of Origami, at the Japanese American National Museum (JANM) in Los Angeles’ Little Tokyo district (http://www.janm.org). The exhibition opened 3 years ago this week and is now touring the US (http://www.artsandartists.org/exhibitions-foldingpaper.php). While it was at JANM, I had a ball leading visitors through the exhibition, working with several of the artists, and getting to know the staff and volunteers at the museum. One of the people there I’ve kept in closest touch with there is Koji, their extremely busy VP of Programs. Koji had just had a baby son when the exhibition opened and was also working on a movie. The film, Chink, which he wrote and produced, came out the following year and has the distinction of being “the first Asian American serial killer movie.”
Serial killers aside, Koji is an extremely warm person and a generous colleague. Since Folding Paper, he has patiently listened to my proposals for other possible exhibitions for JANM, helped me when I’ve wanted to write articles about their exhibitions, and shared information with me for various Japan-related projects. A few months back, Koji told me the museum wanted to take my new origami exhibition, so thanks to him, I’ll be able to present the work of more amazing origami artists in their galleries in 2016. Today, I met with him to discuss another exhibition idea (top secret for now!) and brought with me a book from Theo’s library that I thought his son Takao might enjoy. It’s called Ribbit Rabbit and was written by a friend, Candace Ryan, an author I met a few years back who is wonderfully creative with words. Now that his son is 3 years old, I thought he might enjoy the cute illustrations and playful storyline. I told him about my giveaway project and gave the book to Koji. As he flipped through the colorful pages, he explained that they have a dog called Rabbit. Perfect! He also admitted to me with a huge grin that he dreams of living in a house with no stuff at all in it – not even furniture. Wow. It’s being able to get to know infinitely creative and surprising people like Koji, who run museum programs while making horror movies and being thoughtful, loving parents that makes it so gratifying to work in the museum world.