japanese american history

In the 1940s my family’s only crime was having the face of the enemy. They were incarcerated for four years at Tule Lake Segregation Camp along with 120,000 others of Japanese descent. 

Making art about the unjust imprisonment of families of Japanese descent is my healing and meditation - for my family, ancestors, culture, and America. It brings to light unspoken and unreleased issues around this discriminatory history. Why do I continue making art about something that happened 75 years ago? Central American families are still unjustly imprisoned in detention centers in Texas. Refugees and immigrants are still discriminated against all over the world. African Americans are racially profiled and killed by police. Recently politicians suggested that immigrants should be interned like the Japanese Americans were in the ’40’s. Engaging younger generations about past wrongdoing while drawing parallels to current injustices, helps them better understand their world and choose how to navigate it.

Legacy Chair
Legacy Chair
Illumination Series
Closeup of Illumination series
RemembranceShrine and Illuminations
Innocent Dreamer
Story Telling and Ritual
Story Telling and Ritual
Story Telling and Ritual
Story Telling and Ritual
Story Telling and Ritual
Story Telling and Ritual
Story Telling and Ritual
Pledge Allegiance
Ancestor Chimes
Ancestor Chimes
Ancestor Chimes
Ancestor Chimes
Remembrance Shrine
Remembrance Shrine
Remembrance Shrine
Remembrance Shrine Ritual
Pearls Left Behind
Quiet American Hero
Quiet American Hero
Quiet American Hero
Family Jewels
Incubation
Mary's Power
My Mother’s Children, 2010
Quiet American Hero

Mitsuye Endo’s story weaves through the birdcage bars. This piece honors the 22-year-old DMV clerical worker who did not speak or read Japanese, and had never visited Japan. She was a U.S. citizen and had a brother serving in the U.S. Army. Endo was one of four Japanese Americans who sued the federal government to challenge its imprisonment of 120,000 Japanese Americans. It was her appeal that finally persuaded the Supreme Court to declare the internment of loyal Americans to be unconstitutional