Naoko Wowsugi
An image of a collection of student portraits hung on a wall.

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Thank You for Teaching Me English
Collection of the artist

Arriving in Kansas City from Japan with only one word of English—“Yes”—Naoko Wowsugi developed her knowledge of the language not only through immersion, but through relationships, as she attended college and graduate school. Each of the fourteen photographs shown here, part of a larger ongoing project, depicts someone who was close to Wowsugi over the years, speaking the special word that they taught her. Sometimes the word references a good friendship, the kindness of a teacher, or a relationship that fizzled. Her humor and seriousness of purpose pervade the project, from her manipulation of the studio portrait tradition and accumulation of cast-off and dime-store frames, to the careful hand-inscribed labels detailing the word connected to each portrait.