SCAD MFA student Ayano Hisa returned to her home country of Japan to photograph, realizing that after her time in the United States, "My eyes became a lot more sensitive about traces of history, relations between countries and problems and hopes in contemporary world." While she's looking at and addressing issues that are very much a part of this world, there seems to be something very ethereal about her photographs. Her color palette is a little washed out and dreamy and she manages to find situations that also don't seem quite real. This photo of grown men resting in a playground and accompanied by a cat (a cat!) was submitted along with a photograph of a mother and son looking at a memorial made of origami cranes for A-bomb victims and one of two women using umbrellas as parasols as they stroll along a path dappled with deer. For certain, see these images and more of her work on her website.
She bridges the past and present fluidly, illustrating reminders of what has been and how that has shaped and will shape what we see and experience today. But for some reason I can't shake the feeling the Hisa's Japan is a sort of Never Never Land where even the worst of history can't make us grow up. Maybe it is the intimacy and ease with which she photographs that also makes the first words of her statement ring true to an outsider in her world, "being in one culture sometimes makes a person blind to other cultures as well as his/her own culture..." — something that fellow contender Joerg Brueggemann might contend with. And so with these photographs I am learning to see a little better.