New National Exhibit Explores the Experiences and Events at a WWII Japanese American Internment Camp
Posted on December 29, 2016 8:00 PM
Chandler Museum is hosting its first national traveling exhibit, December 27, 2016 – January 27, 2017. Art of Survival: Enduring the Turmoil of Tule Lake is a unique intimate glimpse into the lives of Japanese Americans who were incarcerated at the Tule Lake confinement center in northern California during World War II.
On February 19, 1942, President Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066, authorizing the Secretary of War to create military areas in order to protect the country “against espionage and sabotage.” The order led to the incarceration of 120,000 individuals of Japanese descent – women, children and men considered a threat to national security. Each of them lost their property and all of their possessions, given instructions to only bring one suitcase.
The photography of Hiroshi Watanabe gives visitors to the exhibit a closer look at Tule Lake, which was among several internment camps in Oregon, California, Washington and Arizona, set up with the intent of securing the West Coast. Watanabe has photographed artifacts that make us think of what life must have been like within the confines of a barbed wire fence and living every day with uncertainty.
“Upon completion, there were 74 blocks, each with 14 barracks divided into four to six small single-family rooms. Each room had one light bulb, one-coal-burning stove, and metal cots.
Men scavenged leftover lumber wood to build tables, chairs and partitions for the cramped living quarters.” (exhibit excerpt)
“Imagine having to give away everything you owned, being transported on a train to a camp in the middle of the desert, and then living in such a small space with your family without privacy or any of the comforts of even a chair or table,” says Chandler Museum Administrator Jody Crago. “This exhibit is significant not only because of the role the incarceration centers played in history, but there were many individuals from the Gila River Internment Camp, only a few miles from Chandler, who were sent to Tule Lake.”
“The greatest percentage of those considered ‘disloyal’ to the U.S. government were at Tule Lake,” continues Crago. “Through their conscientious dissent, the prisoners at this center were ironically acting in the most American way by standing up for their rights and to the injustice of incarceration.”
The exhibit is located at Chandler Museum’s McCullough-Price House, located at 300 S. Chandler Village Drive (south of Chandler Fashion Center). Admission is free. Hours are Tuesday – Saturday, 10 a.m. – 4 p.m.
An opening reception for the exhibit will be held Friday, January 6, 2017, 6 – 8 p.m., featuring tours of the exhibit from staff.
Art of Survival is being supported in part by a Preservation of Japanese
American Confinement Sites Grant administered by the National Park Service,
Department of the Interior.
Further support provided by The Oregon Community Foundation, Fred W. Fields
Fund; Klamath Tourism Grant; Klamath Arts Council Grant; and generous
donations by Denshō Digital Archives, Japanese American Museum of San Jose,
Tule Lake Committee members Jimi Yamaichi and Hiroshi Shimizu, and Hiroshi
Watanabe. This traveling exhibition was made in cooperation with the Tule Lake
Unit of WWII Valor in the Pacific National Monument, Lava Beds National
Monument, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.