Wake Up, Haverford! Yoshi Nomura’s DEARBED Strives to Start Conversation

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By EMMA ROGERS, Staff Writer

DEARBED transforms the ordinary into the thought-provoking. The piece–a biographical art exhibit presented and performed in Founders’ Great Hall April 7 and 8–consisted of both an ongoing performance section as well as an interactive exhibition featuring stories from Tri-Co students. DEARBED is art in its most deliberate form: honest, unforgiving, and, most of all, true.

Before coming to college, Yoshi Nomura, HC ‘17, the piece’s creator, had no theater experience. After his major proposal was initially rejected by Bryn Mawr College, he is majoring in theater with a concentration in set design at Swarthmore College.

The initial inspiration for DEARBED came after a friend of Nomura’s invited him to her room.

“When I sat down in her bed, I smelled pizza,”  Nomura said. “I realized she was having depression, because she couldn’t go to the dining center to eat. She was eating food in her bed.”

He couldn’t get the interaction off his mind. “After we talked, I thought it was really interesting how I made that association between the smell of pizza and the bed. I started to really become interested in ‘bed’ as a college object to tell the story about something that is really private and intimate, but that is really real.”

To Nomura, art is a way to express oneself–even and especially if other people don’t want to see. DEARBED, though comical at times, largely includes heavier stories concerning issues like depression and sexual abuse. Nomura sees his piece as a possible way to start conversation.

“How can we talk about something that is really real, and something that you don’t want to talk about? How can we actually shed light on those underrepresented problems?” he asked. “We don’t talk about it because we don’t feel safe to talk about it. I think depression and sexual abuse in college are very real. It’s happening every day and it’s happening to everyone.”

For this reason, Nomura deliberately placed DEARBED in Founders’ Great Hall, which is not only a pinnacle location on Haverford’s campus but also home to both counseling and administrative offices.

“When you see someone going to Founders’ Hall during the daytime,” he said, “that means that they’re dealing with mental illness. Even if you see them, we don’t talk about them. There’s a lot of people–the appointments are packed for the whole semester.

Nomura continued, “In a way, I want to make DEARBED political. The placement of the piece in Founders’ Hall isn’t exactly a ‘middle finger’ to the college–but really, why aren’t we talking about this?”

Nomura admitted that, like many others, he has experienced depression in college.

“I felt like my life was totally messed up while everyone was having fun. I’m a senior now. Most of my friends have had depression at one point in their college life. I wonder–what if I had a chance to know that everyone was having the same issue that I actually had, instead of isolating myself from the community?”

Ultimately Nomua hopes DEARBED will help foster more conversations about mental illness and abuse: “I think we can make this place safer for everyone, especially someone whose voice isn’t heard.”

DEARBED premiered at 8 p.m. on Friday, April 7 in Founders’ Great Hall and ran continuously for the next 28 hours, finishing up at midnight on Sunday, April 9.

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