Roger Shimomura was born in Seattle, Wash., and spent two early years of his childhood in Minidoka, Idaho, one of 10 concentration camps for Japanese Americans during WWII.
Mr. Shimomura was a distinguished military graduate from the University of Washington and served as a field artillery officer with the First Cavalry Division in Korea. In 1967, he separated from the Army at the rank of Captain. In 1967, he then received a Master’s Degree in fine arts from Syracuse University.
Roger Shimomura's paintings, prints and theatre pieces address sociopolitical issues of Asian America and have often been inspired by diaries kept by his late immigrant grandmother for 56 years of her life. He has had more than 125 solo exhibitions of paintings and prints, as well as presented his experimental theater pieces at such venues as the Franklin Furnace in New York City, Walker Art Center in Minneapolis, and the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C.
He is the recipient of more than 30 grants, of which four are National Endowment for the Arts Fellowships in Painting and Performance Art. Shimomura has been a visiting artist and lectured on his work at more than 200 universities, art schools, and museums across the country. In 1999, the Seattle Urban League designated a scholarship in his name that has been awarded annually to a Seattle resident pursuing a career in art. In 2002, the College Art Association presented him with the "Artist Award for Most Distinguished Body of Work," for his four-year, 12-museum national tour of the painting exhibition, "An American Diary." The following year, he delivered the keynote address at the 91st annual meeting of CAA in New York City. In 2006, he was accorded the Distinguished Alumnus Award from the School of Arts & Sciences at the University of Washington. A past winner of the Kansas Governor's Arts Award, he was designated the first Kansas Master Artist and the same year was honored by the Asian American Arts Alliance as "Exceptional People in Fashion, Food & the Arts."
Shimomura began teaching at the University of Kansas 1969. In fall 1990, Shimomura held an appointment as the Dayton Hudson Distinguished Visiting Professor at Carleton College in Northfield, Minn. In 1994, he became the first fine arts faculty member in KU history to be honored as a University Distinguished Professor. In 1998, he was the recipient of the Higuchi Research Award, the highest annual research honor awarded to a faculty member in humanities and social sciences. In fall 2002, he received the Chancellor's Club Career Teaching Award for sustained excellence in teaching and dedication to students at KU. In 2004 he retired from teaching and started the Shimomura Faculty Research Support Fund, an endowment to foster faculty research in the Department of Art.
Shimomura is in the permanent collections of more than 80 museums nationwide. His personal papers and letters are being collected by the Archives of American Art at the Smithsonian. He is represented by The Flomenhaft Gallery in New York City; Greg Kucera Gallery in Seattle; 8 Modem Gallery in Santa Fe; and Jan Weiner Gallery in Kansas City.