New work: Jomon/Jamón at “Border’s Edge” benefit

February 16, 2015


BordersEdgeIMAGEBorders Edge:On the Edges of Performance

Featuring Enrique Garcia, Natalie Brewster Nguyen, Milta Ortiz, Logan ‘Dirtyverbs’ Phillips, Serena Tang, Denise Uyehara & Karen Falkenstrom

Thursday, March 5, 7pm
Borderlands Theater – 40 W. Broadway, Tucson
$10 – $20 Sliding scale, at the door only
(520) 882-8607

Borderlands Theatre showcases Tucson’s avant-garde performance community in its latest venture, Borders Edge: On the Edges of Performance. The evening features a stellar line-up of performers and writers, who will inhabit the courtyard of Borderlands Theater at 40 W. Broadway in downtown Tucson.

Interdisciplinary artist Denise Uyehara, with musical accompaniment by Karen Falkenstrom of Odaiko Sonora, explores Okinawan identity and “authenticity” while wearing a paper kimono with 20 foot arms in a performance titled, Jomon/Jamón. Milta Ortiz examines marriage and feminine identity in her experimental performance piece. Natalie Nguyen and Selena Tang of Flight School Acrobatics perform a duet called Double Crossers that plays with twins, acrobatics, and the Asian female action heroine archetype. Interwoven throughout the night, spoken word poets Enrique Garcia and Logan Philips read from their recently published books, Tortoise Boy Says and Sonoran Strange, respectively.

The Hello Kitty Panel and Time Magazine

February 16, 2015

Hello Kitty, Time Magazine

Photo: Jae C. Hong—AP

Hello Kitty: Sexist throwback or empowering Icon? Hey, it’s fun to be quoted in Time Magazine, and even more fun to participate with artists and scholars who have something to say about the infamous Kitty.  Join the fun!

Hello Kitty Panel Discussion

Sunday, February 22, 2015, 2:00 PM
Japanese American National Museum
Little Tokyo, downtown Los Angeles
100 N. Central Ave., Los Angeles, CA 90012
events/JANM-HelloKitty-kokeshi-red_3.jpgThis panel discussion will take a critical look at the phenomenon of Hello Kitty, examining some of the arguments made by her detractors. Moderated by Hello! curator Christine Yano, with Laura Miller, Jaime Scholnick, and Denise Uyehara.Yano will be signing books following the program.Free for members; free with Hello! admission; $5 general.Moderator: Christine Yano, PhD

Archipelago (2012)

February 8, 2015

ARCHIPELAGO is a new multidisciplinary work by critically-acclaimed performance artist Denise Uyehara and award-winning visualist Adam Cooper-Terán. Through video, image and movement they remix ancient myths of Okinawa with the story of Batuc, a village in the Yaqui River Valley which was flooded by the Mexican government. They weave together loss, cultural survival, wrath of the deities, spirits of past, present and the future.  Premiered at Highways Performance Space, with support from the National Performance Network Creation Fund.   Click here for video and details.


Transitions w/James Luna, LACE (2012)

January 7, 2015

James Luna and Denise Uyehara surfing

Denise Uyehara and James Luna, photo/design: Adam Cooper-Teran




Transitions by Denise Uyehara and James Luna
Everybody has a past.  For James Luna and myself, that past began in Orange County — land of malls, surfers and the 405 Freeway.  How did we evolve from being ethnic minorities in suburbia to the artists we are today? And in the sea of consumerism and cultural amnesia, what makes an Indian or Asian American truly “authentic?”

In this project we revisit one of James Luna’s performances from the 70’s, also entitled Transitions, in which he unpacked a bag full of “Indian” objects and created a new rituals with them.  We’ll spring board off the earlier work and unpack the metaphorical bag to revisit what’s inside.  Together we’ll conduct a series of rituals that recount surviving life behind the “Orange Curtain.” We’ll be remixing surfing music, disco, narrative and home movies and surfing footage projected onto a psychedelic kimono with 30 foot long arms that can wrap around Denise like a cocoon or straight jacket.

Transitions is commissioned by Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibitions (LACE) for Los Angeles Goes Live as part of Pacific Standard Time, an initiative of the Getty. Pacific Standard Time is a collaboration of more than 60 cultural institutions across Southern California coming together for the first time to celebrate the birth of the L.A. art scene, beginning in the fall of 2011.

Premiered at LACE Thursday, November 10, 2012
LACE (Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibitions)
6522 Hollywood Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90028

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Big Head published in Anthology of Testimonial Plays (Bloomsbury/Methuen)

August 26, 2014

Big HeadTestimonial Plays, which examines the treatment of Japanese Americans during WWII and those now perceived as “the enemy” a post 9/11 world, is included in a new anthology from Methuen/Bloomsbury Press.  Edited by Alison Forsyth.  I’m honored that my work will sit along side writings by Anna Deavere Smith, Paula Cizmar, Tim Etchells of Forced Entertainment and many others.  Big Head was originally published by the beloved Kaya Press.


Dreams & Silhouettes/Suenos y Siluetas (2014)

July 22, 2014


Dreams Website

Click here for Video of show and here for Local PBS (AZPM) feature. Dreams and Silhouettes/ Sueños y Siluetas is a multidisciplinary installation that offers a performative response to the detentions and deportations affecting local residents.  Premiered January 2014 at the Center for Global Justice in Tucson, AZ.  Made possible with generous support from the Tucson Pima Arts Council P.L.A.C.E. grant and the MAPFund.  More on the project and community voices.

Press coverage


Gracias from the Dreams/Sueños Team

January 27, 2014


SOUTH TUCSON – We want to thank the community for coming out to see Dreams and Silhouettes/Sueños y Siluetas at the Center for Global Justice.  It was so exciting to perform to a packed house — and what a diverse crowd! We were so moved by your energy, support and feedback.  Special thanks to our community partners: Las Promotoras, Coalición de Derechos Humanos, Pan Left Productions and the Center for Global Justice.  Check out the media coverage on the project and artist notebook.

Dreams & Silhouettes Press Coverage

January 23, 2014

AZ Illustrated video

"Without Papers" Tucson Weekly article, by Margaret Regan“Without Papers”
Tucson Weekly article, by Margaret Regan

“Border Issues Visualized by Art”
review in the Daily Wildcat
University of Arizona

“Llevan al teatro ‘Sueños y Siluetas'”
de los deportados

and on Carolyn’s Community News,

Dreams & Silhouettes/Sueños y Siluetas
Saturday January 25, 2014, 7p.m.
Global Justice Center
225 E. 26th St. (just west of 4th Ave.)
Tucson, AZ 85713
Show details


Live shadow painting in progress for Dreams & Silhouettes

January 10, 2014

Deep in production….

Wesley Creigh, after a live painting created with Christina Cardenas

Wesley Creigh, after a live painting created with Christina Cardenas

Wesley painting in the "shadow" of a local resident who has been deported

Wesley painting in the “shadow” of a local resident who has been deported

I’ve been thinking a lot about how to make the invisible more visible.  How do you represent someone who is undocumented, who lives with constant threat of deportation, without making them more vulnerable?  We conducted a workshop with Las Promotoras, the women of Derechos Humanos who help educated the public about their rights.  In the workshop we explored peoples dreams and aspirations, then had them write a letter to someone they loved as if this dream had come true.  These letters are played back as audio clips in the Shadows scene from the show.

Meanwhile, performers stand in for those they know who have been deported, created a shadow on the wall, which magically reverses to a white shadow.

Above is a photo of Wesley Creigh in a test run – painting in the “shadows” representing those deported.  Melo and Wesley will both be painting, along with Adam’s animation playing in tandem with their artistry.

Click here for details on this free performance in South Tucson.



Dreams and Silhouettes premieres at the Global Justice Center Saturday Jan. 25, 7pm, Tucson

November 15, 2013

Mark your calendars!
Dreams & Silhouettes/Sueños y Silhuetas
Saturday January 25, 2014, 7p.m.
Global Justice Center
225 E. 26th St., Tucson, AZ 85713
Just out! “Without Papers” Tucson Weekly Article

Video (from MOCA-Tucson show)
Inside scoop in Artist Notebook
Facebook Event Page
High Resolution Photos and Press Release

Dreams & Silhouettes is multi-disciplinary performance installation inspired by communities in Tucson and near the border that live with militarization, detention, and deportation.

By award-winning filmmaker Jason Aragon of Pan Left Productions, performance artist Denise Uyehara and video artist Adam Cooper-Teran.  Featuring stories from Las Promotoras of Derechos Humanos and members of the community, with visual artists Melo Dominguez, Lawrence Gipe and Wesley Creigh, performers Marc Pinate and Yvonne Montoya.

Made possible with generous support from the Tucson Pima Arts Council PLACE Grant and the MAP Fund

Sabado, 25 Enero, 2014, 7p.m.
Global Justice Center
225 E. 26th St., Tucson, AZ 85713

Sueños y Silhuetas es la instalación actuación multidisciplinar inspirado en las comunidades en Tucson y cerca de la frontera que viven con la militarización, la detención y la deportación.


“Shedding Light on Memory and the Occupied Body” performative talk, Pitzer College

February 4, 2013

Denise Uyehara

  • I’m excited to announce I’ll be an Activist/Artist-in-Residence (AAIR) this February and March at the Claremont Colleges in Southern California. Activities include:Opening Performative Talk:
    “Shedding Light and the Occupied Body”
    February 13th, 2013, 7:00 p.m.
    Benson Auditorium, Pitzer
    Community and class workshop showing:

    Saturday, March 9, 3pm, Kallick Family Gallery at Pitzer College

AAIR is the signature project of the Intercollegiate Department of Asian American Studies at the Claremont Colleges, offering public events and workshops with activists and professional artists representing diverse cultures and art forms that are usually not part of “traditional” college curricula. More…

Bus Stop Dreaming in Casa Libre’s Edge 50 series, Jan 23

January 22, 2013

Yvonne Montoya and Denise Uyehara, Bus Stop Dreaming, MOCA-TucsonDenise Uyehara/Yvonne Montoya perform excerpts from Bus Stop Dreaming (the roving unplugged version!) as part of an evening of poetry and performance, presented by Edge 50: a Reading Series of Emerging and Younger Writers.  Evening also features work by Cybele Knowles, Sueyeun Juliette Lee.

Wednesday, January 23, 
7:30 p.m.
Suggested Donation: $5
Casa Libre
228 N. 4th Avenue
Tucson, AZ 85705
view video here

Bus Stop Dreaming is a series multi-disciplinary performances that appear at community sites around Tucson in response to the ongoing deportations of thousands of undocumented immigrants in the city. Bus Stop is a collaboration between documentary filmmaker Jason Aragon of Pan Left Productions and performance artist Denise Uyehara, with Yvonne Montoya of Safos Dance Theater, video/audio artist Adam Cooper-Terán.  interviews and footage from residents of South Tucson.  Made possible in part by the MAP Fund and the P.L.A.C.E./Open Society Fund from the Tucson Pima Arts Concil. More…