The Kasa Project
What is a Kasa?
The Kasa Project surrounds our collective importance and need as human beings for shelter and safety.
In Japanese, the word “kasa” means umbrella, representing the canopy of the heavens, shelter and protection. They signify power, dignity held by a central axis that upholds the world. They represent the ability to shield oneself from spiritual suffering and from harmful forces providing a protected place to release emotion.
In this project, I have created visual interpretations of the stories held by survivors of the Japanese American incarceration. Their stories speak to the ramifications that incarceration, separation of families, racism and other injustices cause for the survivors and subsequent generations that follow.
It is my hope that by giving visual voice to these stories, we may begin to heal and learn from from each other about our histories and the traumas that have resulted from injustices placed upon us. It is about owning our identities, our worth and sharing pride of human resilience toward the betterment of societal harmony.
What We Do
Making A Difference
The Kasa Project intends to create umbrellas that will provide viewers with insight into the multiplicity of personal experiences ensued by victims and their descendants as a result of the Japanese American incarceration during WWII. Exhibitions are focused on education.
Umbrellas of Honor
The Kasa Project offers custom artistic interpretations of stories told by Japanese American incarceration victims or their descendants. Each umbrella is artistically rendered through stories told by Japanese Americans incarcerated during WWII. The intent is to promote healing by holding space for those who had been incarcerated and/or their families to give personal accounts of what they continue to experience as a result of that injustice. Using art as a language to gracefully release the complexity of those bottled up emotions that may stifle our ability to reach our full potentials as human beings. It is a means to honor our ancestors and honor ourselves through visual representation reminding us of who we are and the potential we hold to thrive.
Dana Kawano, a Fine Artist, Illustrator, Ritual Wear Designer and Scenic/Installation Artist is versed in a multitude of artistic mediums. Her background encompasses the creation of ‘visual landscapes’ including illustrations, elaborate wearable and scenic art that incorporate painting, textiles, found materials while integrating cultural/ritual layering to tell the story. Kawano’s recent representative works and awards include:
2022 Y Basta Ya! (Enough)- NAKA Dance Theater - Debby Kajiyama and Jose Navarrete - Oakland, CA
2022 The Kasa Project - "Island City Waterways:UpRooted Exhibition" - Janet Koike - Alameda, CA
2019 REVIVAL: Millennial Remembering in the Afro NOW - Amara Tabor Smith - costume and set design - Stanford University
2019 The Kasa Project at the “Then They Came For Me” exhibition San Francisco Presidio banned photography of the Japanese American WWII concentration camp experience with Ansel Adams and Dorothea Lange
2019 Izzy Award Winner for Outstanding Achievement in Visual Design for House Full of Black Women Episode: Passing/Through/The Great Middle - Amara Tabor Smith/Ellen Sebastian Chang choreographer and director
2018 Ikkai:Once (painted kasas—umbrellas—installation and props - ODC Theater/Yayoi Kambara
2018 Izzy Award nominee for Outstanding Achievement in Visual Design for performance artist Dohee Lee’s ARA I & ll
2016 Forest Tales - Anuj Vaidya - costume and set design - SF Asian Art Museum