Two sculptural exhibits, including work related to the internment of Japanese-Americans during World War II, were on display Feb. 21-27 at UCA and Hendrix College.
The exhibits were part of a joint project between UCA and Hendrix to host events commemorating the 75th anniversary of President Franklin Roosevelt’s signing of Executive Order 9066, which resulted in the incarceration of Japanese-Americans in 10 different internment camps across the United States.
According to the Encyclopedia of Arkansas History, two of these camps, Rohwer and Jerome, were located in southeastern Arkansas.
Selections of artwork from the Rosalie Santine Gould-Mabel Jamison Vogel collection were lent from Little Rock’s Butler Center for American Studies to UCA from Feb. 20-24 and were on display in the Fireplace Room in McCastlain Hall.
According to the event’s pamphlet the artwork was created by the prisoners of Rohwer and Jerome while they were incarcerated.
The exhibit included bird pins made from scrap wood, an acrylic painting done on leather and an anthropomorphized Magatama, which is a type of small sculpture that appeared in prehistoric Japan.
According to the pamphlet it was named after an art teacher at Rohwer, Vogel, who kept her students’ artwork and gave them to Gould, the former major of McGehee, AR, when Vogel died. Vogel was a 1930 graduate of the Arkansas State Teacher’s College, which is now UCA.
Associate Dean of the College of Fine Arts and Communication at UCA Gayle Seymour said she found it interesting that some of the drawings Vogel’s students created often included the fences surrounding the camp, as if the prisoner was on the outside of the camp.
“One wonders if this viewpoint, as if they were outside the fence, helped her students find a certain equilibrium through art making and a temporary escape from their reality,” Seymour said.
Seymour said that she believes that the artwork done by the Japanese-Americans at Rohwer and Jerome could become a testament for future generations.
The sculptural exhibit that was shown at Hendrix, “Life Interrupted: 10 Internment Camps” by Nancy Chikaraishi, was a representation of the 120,000 people of Japanese decent who were imprisoned at the internment camps.
The exhibit also included photographs of the Rohwer camp by Paul Faris, a professor of English and photography at Hendrix at the time of the Japanese-American incarceration.
Professor of History at Hendrix Michael Sprunger said that Faris photographed Rohwer during the last few months that it was open. He was only allowed to photograph artists at the camp.
Photo by Lauren Swaim