If time was an object what would it be? If time was a painting, a photograph, a sketch, what would it show? “Time”... Is it what we lack when we rush to fit into the one-dimensional world defined by the clock’s two arrows, or is it the moment of a new encounter, the birth of a new idea, or a moment stopped in an instant of inspiration, that affects us more?
Emi Schemmer and Frankie Cihi, two young, ambitious and talented bicultural artists of Japanese heritage, raised those questions in a lively tone on a sunny afternoon in Tokyo only two days before the devastating March 11 earthquake.
On that Friday afternoon, however, perception of time suddenly changed. It took only several minutes to wash away countless lives, shuttering and devastating memories, belongings and hopes for the future. On that day, time stopped for many in an instant of hopelessness, fear and solitude. “Time” was suddenly limited and the question of how should a life be lived if there’s no tomorrow fundamentally replaced any other thoughts. Shocked and saddened, but even more ambitious, Emi and Frankie decided that the time to be active had come not only for them, but for everyone – regardless of distance and borders.
“We both strongly believe it is now that people must act and come together,” the two artists said in hopes of creating awareness about the ongoing tragedy in Japan. “We hope to create unity, change, and global peace.”
To do this, they are launching an art event—EN (a combination of three Japanese words pronounced the same: 縁-relationship, 円-circle, and 園-garden). It was originally planned to be held in Tokyo on March 18, but was canceled after the earthquake. Instead, the idea has expanded to cross borders and encompass Japan, the U.S, Australia, Mexico and Hong Kong as a movement which creates awareness and brings people together under a common cause. Traveling between those locations, Emi and Frankie will collaborate with artists in public art events that aim to bring individuals together in an expressive art form, created and dedicated to the victims of the March 11 earthquake.
Emi and Frankie also launched the Add a Peace Initiative, a collaborative event bringing artists together in the creation of a peace monument. The event will be held on April 9 in the central plaza of Ajijic, Mexico. A large-scale public mural, designed by the two artists, will also be displayed during Easter weekend (April 23-25) in the same town. Similar events will take place in various cities in Australia, the United States, Canada, China, Thailand and Singapore. EN will be held in Japan in May.
Frankie, born and raised in Tokyo in a bicultural family, started painting when she was three. After attending an international school in Tokyo, she moved to the U.S. to pursue a degree in fine arts at the School of Visual Arts in New York, from where she graduated in 2010. The passion for diversity and the search for her roots brought her back in Japan after a successful solo exhibition in Tokyo, during which she established a strong connection with Japanese audiences.
Like Frankie, Emi, raised in Canada, also comes from a bicultural family – she was born to a German-Canadian father and a Japanese mother. After studying sociology, Japanese language, literature and health sciences at the University of Victoria in Canada, she started her own company focusing on multimedia marketing and creative consulting/PR, but her desire to be creative, innovative and proactive brought her to Japan a year ago. Embracing new challenges by establishing herself as an entrepreneur in a new environment is what Emi considers her passion in life.
“We just want to help people…we do what we do because we truly believe in the good of humanity,” she says.
EN is a meeting spot for people to come together regardless of nationalities, gender, age or other social constraints,” the women say. “We hope to bring people together and provide them with the opportunity to add their peace and support to our movement,” says Frankie.
Emi and Frankie are also calling for art donations for an auction, the proceeds of which will go to earthquake and tsunami relief. The two artists will be traveling to the most devastated areas and deliver the proceeds directly to emergency shelters and schools. They also will accept any help that would support their cause. Providing space for art events, gathering artists, raising awareness or simply spreading the word-of mouth are few examples of ways to support this movement.
For more information on Emi Schemmer and Frankie Cihi’s movement, email firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.