Persimmon and Frog
by Fumiko Kimura
with David Berger
"Fumiko Kimura candidly tells her life story, her practice of artmaking, and the life lessons she has learned and cultivated. Through her author-partnership with David Berger, the book offers the valuable first-person perspective of a Kibei, born in the United States to Japanese-immigrant parents, educated in Japan, and 'returned' to the land of her birth. Kimura describes her transnational artistic fluidity in this beautifully designed book in which her artwork adds eloquence to her words." —Barbara Johns, art historian and author of The Hope of Another Spring: Takuichi Fujii, Artist and Wartime Witness
Written intimately and in the first person, Persimmon and Frog reveals a less familiar story from World War II. Born in America to immigrant farmers, Kimura was visiting Japan as a 10-year-old when the US entered the war. She was stranded in Japan and spent her preteen and adolescent years in that foreign country, an American who looked completely Japanese. She went to school, absorbing Japanese aesthetics and the solace of art making.
After the war, Kimura returned to the US. Relearning English, she graduated college and became a research chemist. In her forties, married with a family, she left that career and pursued her passion for painting with watercolor, sumi ink, and acrylics. She studied Western art at university, but later focused on the Japanese brush and ink on paper. She would eventually help found Puget Sound Sumi Artists. Kimura is now an influential and respected artistic figure in the Pacific Northwest, and she continues to paint and exhibit.
Part memoir and part artistic survey, this book takes Kimura’s writings, diaries, and interviews, and traces her artistic development from early watercolors of Tacoma’s industrial waterfront to recent calligraphic paintings that poignantly engage Eastern and Western influences. The book deftly profiles both her personal life and artistic aspirations, telling a story of profound resilience, independence, and artistic accomplishment.