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Art of Survival: Enduring the Turmoil of Tule Lake

AUDIENCE: Adults, Teens

RENTAL FEE: $3,000 + shipping for an 8-week booking

SIZE: 150 to 200 linear feet

SECURITY: Moderate


An exploration of the only Japanese American Segregation Center of WWII

Art of Survival is a traveling exhibition probing the complexity of the Japanese American confinement site in Newell, CA. It became the only officially designated segregation center during WWII and was ruled under martial law. Called Tule Lake, this location was the largest of the 10 confinement sites and, because anyone deemed a troublemaker by the federal government was relocated to Tule Lake, it ultimately housed people from all sites. Many of the people who were brought in under segregation were people who knew their rights had been egregiously undermined and were willing to stand up to the injustice. Accused of being disloyal, in their dissent, they were ironically acting in the most American way. The incarceration of 120,000 people of Japanese descent, most citizens of this nation, was a travesty; Tule Lake was exponentially disturbing.

Through haunting images of artifacts by fine art photographer Hiroshi Watanabe we glimpse into the lives of those who were held at Tule Lake and are encouraged to consider both the orchestration of life behind barbed wire and what it might have been like to live with constant turmoil and uncertainty. Oral histories allow us to hear varying views on some of the complex issues of Tule Lake in the voices of those held captive.

The exhibition themes includes:

  • Japanese American Immigration to U.S.
  • Lives Disrupted
  • Life Behind Barbed Wire (Arriving at camp)
  • A Home without Freedom (Coping)
  • The Arts of Survival (Enduring with Dignity)
  • Loyalty Questionnaire
  • The Only Segregation Center
  • Turmoil over Renunciation
  • Returning Home
  • Redress and Remembering
Exhibition Components:
  • 42 frame photographs of artifacts
  • 6 Text Panels: Title, Intro, Artists Statement, Glossary, Map, & Credit
  • 10 Canvas Banners written by authors Stan Yogi and Elaine Elinson
  • 2 DVDs
  • Programming & Suggested Artifacts List
  • Publicity Materials

Art of Survival is being supported in part by a Preservation of Japanese American Confinement Sites Grant administered by the National Park Service, Department of the Interior. Further support provided by The Oregon Community Foundation, Fred W. Fields Fund; Klamath Tourism Grant; Klamath Arts Council Grant; and generous donations by Denshō Digital Archives, Japanese American Museum of San Jose, Tule Lake Committee members Jimi Yamaichi and Hiroshi Shimizu, and Hiroshi Watanabe. This traveling exhibition was made in cooperation with the Tule Lake Unit of WWII Valor in the Pacific National Monument, Lava Beds National Monument, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Photographs courtesy Hiroshi Watanabe © 2014.
Top Left: Rice Bowl Made in Japan, Tule Lake, California. Found at Tule Lake Internment Camp Dump Site, 2011. Top Right: Carved Bird Dressed with Shell Beads, Tule Lake, California. Japanese American Museum of San Jose, 2009.
Middle Left: Pipe-cleaner Doll with Painted Face on Shell 3. Japanese American Museum of San Jose, 2009. Middle Right: Shell Flower Corsage, Tule Lake, California, 2013. Bottom Right: Pipe-cleaner Flower Arrangement in Gallon Jug, Tule Lake, California 1. Japanese American Museum of San Jose, 2009. Bottom Left: Chair Made by Mitsuo Kaida in 1944, Tule Lake, California. Japanese American Museum of San Jose, 2009. Exhibition Installation images from the Favell Museum, Klamath Falls, OR.


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