Internment Camp Art Exhibition at Parker, AZ

Internment Camp art exhibition currently open at Parker library

"Beauty in Captivity” highlights the creativity, spirit of internees at Poston

An exhibition of art from the Poston Internment Camp in World War II is currently on exhibit at the Parker Public Library until February 19, 2009.

The exhibit, “Beauty in Captivity,” includes items of everyday living plus paintings and carvings made in the Poston & Gila River internment camps.

The exhibition was created by the Japanese American Historical Society of San Diego, which was founded in 1992 by former internees of Poston Camp III & now includes members held at other camps during the 1942-45 relocation of people of Japanese ancestry from the West Coast.

The California Civil Liberties Education Program is one of the funders of this exhibition, & it is being presented in cooperation with the Tribes.

As part of the exhibit, a talk will be given on February 19 by Susan Hasegawa, chair of the department of History & Social Sciences at San Diego’s City College.

February 19 is recognized as the "Day of Remembrance" by Japanese Americans, because it is the anniversary of President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s signing of Executive Order 9066, which allowed their relocation & incarceration. The exhibition will close the morning after her talk.

Additionally, the documentary "Passing Poston," which was filmed on the CRIT (Colorado River Indian Tribe) Reservation & provides a history of the internment camps, will be shown at the Library on February 10 at 6:30 p.m.

Among items on display are be artworks painted on scrap lumber including crate ends & other items found around the internment camps.

Toys & decorative objects made using homemade carving tools & recycled objects demonstrate resourcefulness & a desire to create beauty among the internees.

Two objects are of particular interest. One is a whirligig toy made in Poston III camp by Fudo Takagi from memory, based on a design created by his father Kogoro M. Takagi during the 1930s. A photo from the family’s post-war Arizona visit shows the remains of a Poston barrack & Fudo’s younger brother Hideo holding a similar toy.

The other item of interest is a nameplate carved with a sharpened bedspring for Clara Breed. Breed was the San Diego children’s librarian who maintained a wartime correspondence with "her" children & whose efforts to make sure they were not forgotten was chronicled in the 2006 book "Dear Miss Breed."

Breed also helped the children's parents by writing letters on their behalf to resolve citizenship & other legal questions. The nameplate is considered one of the treasures of the collection.

For more information call the library at (928) 669-2622 or CRIT Education at (928) 669-8831.

Story published in the CRIT Mantaba Messenger, February 2009 issue:

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