An Idea Called Tomorrow

Betty Nobue Kano
November 25, 2009, 9:20 pm
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Betty Nobue Kano – Tomorrow’s Garden, 2009

Image of "Tomorrow's Garden" by Betty Nobue Kano

This half-year long project in sustainable urban farming began with many “partners,” from Michele Obama with her edible organic garden at the White House to friends, family and artists around the world seeking a way to make and share food grown locally.

We can’t grow everything we need or use, so we are interdependent even as we attempt to be self-sufficient.  I was given seeds from Okinawa to grow hechima, also known as loofah, as well as ancient Indian corns.  The garden microcosm reflects the interconnectedness of the planet itself, weaving its land and water: Tomorrow’s Garden spans the Ryukyu Islands, Japan, the Pacific to California, the Southwest, Berkeley and Los Angeles.

My connection to the Pacific Ocean began 60 years ago, when my family sailed from Japan to California, and continues with family, friends, seeds and songs, but the changes in all our oceans during this time have been devastating.  In the “Great Pacific Garbage Patch,” plastic debris engulfs the ocean habitat; this image forms the background to Tomorrow’s Garden.  Our great mother ocean has become the drain for our plastic wastes, poisoning from the most microscopic level all marine and bird life.

Tomorrow’s Garden tries to stop using plastic.

Parts of my paintings, Yemaya, Initiation Series, Ogun, To be Joyous, Amami Singing, Amami Being, Orunmila, Winter Light, 24 Hours, September Wind, Odu, and BEginnING appear in the video  Tomorrow’s Garden created by Homer Rabara.

Betty Nobue Kano is a painter, curator and lecturer. Her work has been exhibited regionally, nationally and internationally, including at San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; Triton Museum of Art; Centro Cultural Tijuana, Mexico, and Havana Bienal, Cuba. Her artwork is included in: This Bridge Called My Back: Writings by Radical Women of Color; Women Artists of Color: A Bio-Critical Sourcebook to 20th Century Artists in the Americas; Black Velvet, the Art We Love to Hate; International Review of African American Art and Mixed Blessings, New Art in a Multicultural America. She co-founded Art Against Apartheid, Asian American Women Artists Association and Women of Color Camp. She received a Rockefeller Foundation Residency Fellowship in the Humanities and the “Sisters of Fire” Award by Women of Color Resource Center. She received her M.F.A. in Painting from UC Berkeley. Email:

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