Roger Shimomura’s paintings, prints, and theatre pieces address sociopolitical issues of ethnicity. He was born in Seattle, Washington and spent two early years of his childhood in Minidoka (Idaho), one of 10 concentration camps for Japanese Americans during WWII.
Shimomura was a distinguished military graduate from the University of Washington, Seattle and served as a field artillery officer with the First Cavalry Division in Korea. In 1967 he separated from the Army at the rank of Captain. In 1967 he then received his M.F.A. from Syracuse University, New York. He has had over 150 solo exhibitions of paintings and prints, as well as presented his experimental theater pieces at such venues as the Franklin Furnace, New York City, Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, and The Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC. He is the recipient of more than 30 grants, of which 4 are National Endowment for the Arts Fellowships in Painting and Performance Art. Shimomura has been a visiting artist and lectured on his work at more than 200 universities, art schools, and museums across the country. In 1999, the Seattle Urban League designated a scholarship in his name that has been awarded annually to a Seattle resident pursuing a career in art. In 2002 he received the College Art Association Distinguished Body of Work Award. The following year, he delivered the keynote address at the 91st annual meeting of CAA in New York City. In 2003 he was a recipient of the Joan Mitchell Foundation Painting Award. In 2006, he was accorded the Distinguished Alumnus Award from the School of Arts & Sciences, University of Washington, Seattle, and five years later was one of 50 alumni to be presented with the “150th Anniversary Timeless Award”. A past winner of the Kansas Governor’s Arts Award, in 2008, he was designated the first Kansas Master Artist and the same year was honored by the Asian American Arts Alliance, N.Y.C. as "Exceptional People in Fashion, Food & the Arts." In 2011 Shimomura was designated a United States Artist. The next year he delivered the commencement address to Garfield High School, Seattle, his alma mater, then was elected to the school Hall of Fame. In 2016 Shimomura was the featured guest on the Day of Rembrance at the National Museum of American History, Smithsonian Institute.
Shimomura began teaching at the University of Kansas, Lawrence, KS in 1969. In the fall of 1990, Shimomura held an appointment as the Dayton Hudson Distinguished Visiting Professor at Carleton College, Northfield, Minnesota. During his teaching career at the University of Kansas he was the first faculty member ever to be designated a University Distinguished Professor (1994), receive the Higuchi Research Prize (1998) and the Chancellor’s Club Career Teaching Award (2002). In 2004 he retired from teaching and started the Shimomura Faculty Research Support Fund, an endowment to foster faculty research in the Department of Art.
Shimomura is in the permanent collections of over 100 museums nation wide including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Whitney Museum of American Art, Museum of American Art, National Portrait Gallery & American Art Museum,, Smithsonian.. His personal papers and letters are being collected by the Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution in Washington, DC. He is represented by Flomenhaft Gallery, New York City and Greg Kucera Gallery, Seattle.