Cori Nakamura Lin’s “The Night Parade” reveals personal and political art

With the promise of Spring Break upon us, now is a great time to check out the three exhibits in the Wriston Art Center before they close on March 8. After visiting artist Cori Nakamura Lin’s exhibit “The Night Parade,” I felt like I dove into a whole other world—perfect for a dreary winter morning break! 

The exhibit is in the Leech Gallery and consists of a variety of small paintings and a handwoven basket. According to Lin’s artist statement, many of the paintings in the exhibit were initially commissioned to illustrate their sister’s debut memoir, “The Night Parade” (2023). 

Cover to “The Night Parade,” written by Jami Nakamura Lin. Photo by Jacob Hanekamp.

In describing the Japanese spirits that permeate the paintings, Lin writes, “Yōkai are not exactly ghost, or monster, or spirit, but a wide umbrella category holding all of these and more. I am drawn to these creatures’ tendency to inhabit in between space, and I paint them to help me release rage, evoke cycles, channel joy and remember what’s been lost.” 

The space itself is very minimalistic and easy to walk through quickly. It did not take me long to look at all of the paintings, but the more I looked, the more I wanted to look closer. Most of the paintings are full of neutral hues such as black, gray and white. However, every so often they contain a flash of lime green, red or yellow. 

I found myself looking at one of the paintings more than the others. It’s called “Future Memories of the Sea” and is a watercolor painting on cut paper. I think it was the colors that drew me in; the painting is full of green, teal and purple. It feels like the sea: refreshing and mesmerizing. 

Full of details, the entire painting is alive. The squid and the fish and the coral are all intricate, each one a work of art on its own. And yet, the bright colors of the painting make it feel like a piece of art you might find in a children’s museum or library. 

The painting gains even more meaning when you notice the words written around the border. They read, “U.S. out of Okinawa! Water is Life! No PFAs! Military Out! Justice for Survivors! No War! No Base!” 

Reading this banner changed the way I saw the painting. It no longer felt like a child’s art piece; it felt political, and it felt painful. Lin’s painting tells a story across lands and generations, and in this piece, that story becomes one that includes the earth and the people that inhabit it. 

“Baku” (pictured) is one of 10 paintings present in Wriston and one of 16 in the exhibit. Photo by Jacob Hanekamp.

If you would like to view Lin’s art for yourself, flip through the illustrations or just wander throughout the galleries like one of the spirits from Lin’s paintings, the Wriston Art Center is open Monday to Friday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Saturday from noon to 4 p.m. 

I wish you the best in your ponderings! If this exhibit doesn’t speak to you, there is also “The End of Somewhere” by Kayla Bauer (see the article from week three!) and the multi-artist exhibit “Organic/Inorganic.”