UCA, Hendrix Partner in Honor of Japanese War Art

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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

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  1. After three quarters of a century some deep dark secrets remain regarding the treatment of German-Americans. Within a month after the war broke out almost 1,000,000 permanent resident aliens were declared as “Alien Enemies;” 300,000 were German-American permanent residents. The “Enemy Aliens” were fingerprinted, were mug shot like criminals; they were prohibited from flying, from leaving their neighborhood, and were not allowed to possess cameras, rifles, shotguns, and small arms.
    Some 30,000 German-American Alien Enemies were arrested and interned by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the Justice Department. During and after arrests the Constitutional Rights of arrested Enemy Aliens were violated, they were denied these rights: “to be confronted with witnesses against them;” “to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation…;” “to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures…;” “no person…shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself….” In addition, at their hearing they were not allowed to have an attorney present.
    On December 8, 1941 the day after Pearl Harbor was attacked by the Empire of Japan, German-American breadwinners, and in several cases, both spouses (orphaning minor children and infants) were arrested by the FBI at their homes and work. Subsequently, they were interned by the INS. Internment camps and detentions centers, including Homes of the Good Shepherd, were used to detain those arrested from Ellis Island, New York Harbor to the Tuna Canyon Detention Camp in Tujunga, California. In many cases those arrested were citizens of the United States. Some remained incarcerated for more than three years after the war had ended.
    Subsequently, thousands of German-Americans were deported, repatriated, expatriated and exchanged with our enemy, Germany. American born children and infants of German heritage were expatriated and sent into a Germany under siege, and with their parents traded for Americans caught behind enemy lines and for wounded members of the U.S. Armed Forces.
    An unknown number of German-Americans were denaturalized by the courts, one high ranking official of the Justice Department referred to the judges of the day, as lap-dog judges. The actions taken by United States Government agencies, like the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS), the FBI, and the courts, resulted in the destruction of many German-American families, as well as the loss of personal property. Thousands of German-Americans were incarcerated in the same camps as their Japanese-American counterparts. The Government of the United States enacted 11 Public Laws as redress for the Japanese-American victims, while not one such law was enacted on behalf of the German-American victims.
    Interned German-Americans, Italian-Americans, and Japanese-Americans, were of the ethnicity of our World War II enemies: Germany, Italy and Japan. Most conclude, as did Congress and the President of the United States, that the internment of the Japanese-Americans was the result of “racial prejudice, wartime hysteria and a lack of political leadership.” Even though this statement is false, historians and the news media began using the race card as a means for selling their stories until the internment of Japanese-Americans became an industry; it became easy to sell their stories.
    The injustice which befell the German-Americans can be best described by the following: In the Crystal City, Texas family internment camp there was 218 births; 148 were Japanese-Americans and 70 were German-Americans. The 148 Japanese-Americans born in the camp received an apology and $20,000 under Public Law 100-383, The Civil Liberties Act of 1988, while the 70 German-Americans born in the same camp received NOTHING, in other words they were excluded from the law. This is not justice!

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