Katie Yamasaki: Shapes, Lines, and Light

Central Library, Youth Wing

* This exhibit has been extended to January 22nd, 2023.

Celebrated children’s book artist and muralist Katie Yamasaki shares over 25 original collages from her new book, Shapes, Lines and Light: My Grandfather’s American Journey (Norton Young Readers, Fall, 2022) in Central Library’s Youth Wing.

A personal story of the significant legacy of her grandfather, architect Minoru Yamasaki, her book shows how the power of serenity, surprise, and delight, can create new worlds, even against great odds. Her vivid collages and words capture the longer journey of the immigrant experience and his legacy. As an anti-racist touchstone, the book navigates painful Anti-Asian American hatred and histories, such as the Japanese-American mass incarceration of WWII. Yet in resistance to chronic racism and discrimination, Yama’s persistence and vision and the multigenerational love of his family uplift and inspire. His work, and his granddaughter’s in turn, urge us to look beyond our world—beyond the built environment, inequalities, and received ideas— and invite us to bring spaces of imagination, harmony and contemplation into existence.

A youth and family event on October 1st at 1 pm welcomes artist Katie Yamasaki to Central Library for a presentation and book signing.

About the Artist

Katie Yamasaki is a muralist and children’s book artist. She has traveled widely, painting over 80 murals with diverse communities around the world that explore local issues of identity and social justice. Her children’s book work focuses on similar themes of social justice and stories from underrepresented communities. 

Yamasaki’s mural work takes a participatory approach, working with local community members to find ways to best communicate stories they want to tell. From incarcerated mothers at Rikers Island to the community surrounding Lincoln Hospital in the Bronx; elder members of the Japanese American Nat’l Museum to school communities around the country, Yamasaki has devoted her practice to telling visual stories in an effort to help us all see each other more clearly. 

Most recently, Yamasaki wrote and illustrated “Dad Bakes” (Norton Young Readers, 2021), which tells the story of a father and daughter reconnecting after a separation caused by the father’s incarceration. Some of her other books, especially “When the Cousins Came” and “Fish for Jimmy” recount personal family stories about the internment camps of WWII and growing up in a multi-racial family. Yamasaki also co-authored “Everything Naomi Loved,” with Ian Lendler (NYR, 2020). “Everything Naomi Loved” tells the story of Naomi, and how she faces the hard changes gentrification brings to her beloved community. 

Currently, Yamasaki is beginning a multi-year residency with the Women and Justice Project. Together, Yamasaki and WJP will work in partnership with justice organizations around the city to build a campaign of legislative reform and culture change around issues of gender justice and the mass incarceration of women. 

Yamasaki earned her BA from Earlham College and her MFA from the School of Visual Arts in NYC, where she served on the faculty for several years. Currently, she is a teaching artist at The Center for Fiction in Brooklyn. Yamasaki worked for 14 years as a public school Spanish and Art teacher in both the Detroit and NYC public schools. She lives in Brooklyn with her family. 



Preview the Exhibit