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10/4/2004 Linfield history chair to discuss Watanabe significance

McMINNVILLE – A Linfield history professor will examine the life of Sadao Watanabe from a historical perspective during a lecture at Linfield College.

John Sagers, Linfield assistant professor of East Asian history and department chair, will present "Sadao Watanabe’s Significance in Japanese Christian History," on Thursday, Oct. 14, at 4:30 p.m. in the Miller Fine Arts Center. The lecture is part of a Homecoming celebration at the college, Oct. 14-16.

The lecture coincides with an exhibit featuring the work of the internationally known printmaker, "Sadao Watanabe - A Collection of Prints from the Linfield Community," on display now through Oct. 29 in the Fine Art Gallery at the James F. Miller Fine Arts Center.

Watanabe’s style was unique in its blending of Christian themes and Japanese traditional folk art techniques. As one of a small minority of Japanese Christians, Watanabe attacked the perception of Christianity as a strictly foreign religion by depicting Biblical characters with Japanese features, clothing and customs. At the same time, Watanabe was part of a larger movement of Japanese artists determined to preserve traditional Japanese crafts from extinction.

“His use of folk art to convey a Christian message is symbolic of the struggle that many Japanese Christians have faced when reconciling their cultural and religious identities,” Sagers said.

Watanabe was a visiting scholar at Linfield College in 1969-1970, gave guest lectures and demonstrations on several other occasions, and was awarded a Linfield honorary doctorate in fine arts in 1981. This year is the 35th anniversary of his first visit to the college.

Sagers holds a master’s of Pacific International Affairs from the University of California at San Diego and a Ph.D. in Japanese history from the University of Washington. He was a Fulbright Fellow at Rikkyo University in Tokyo during 1998-1999. Sagers’ work has been published in "Education about Asia" and the "Encyclopedia of Capitalism." He is currently working on a book, "The Intellectual Roots of Japanese Capitalism."

The lecture is free and open to the public. For more information, call 503-883-2499.