Art and the Creation of a Resilient Japanese American Spirit —


— by Nancy Matsumoto: In a 1943 photograph of artist Chiura Obata, he gazes intently at his subject outside the picture frame, paintbrush in hand. He’s seated outdoors, his face in profile, his hair windswept. In the foreground two of his students, young boys, work on their own ink brush paintings, completely absorbed. Another photo of the same period, taken by Dorothea Lange, depicts a group of adults in Obata’s class bent over makeshift tables.

These children and adults were students in art classes that Obata, along with artists George Matsusaburo Hibi and his wife Hisako, organized at the Tanforan Detention Center in San Bruno, California. All of them were among the 110,000 people of Japanese descent who were rounded up and evacuated from their homes following the December 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor…

Image: evacuee children are remaining after hours to continue their creative work, courtesy of Dorothea Lange, War Relocation Authority Photographs of Japanese-American Evacuation and Resettlement / National Archives

May 15, 2019

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