The Art of Gaman: Arts and Crafts from the Japanese Internment Camps, 1942-1946

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After the bombing of Pearl Harbor, President Franklin D. Roosevelt issued an executive order to round up and herd all ethnic Japanese people living on the West Coast, two-thirds of whom were U.S. citizens born on American soil, into remote inland concentration camps. Allowed to bring only what they could carry, the internees sought solace in art, seeing it as a way to gaman (bear the seemingly unbearable with patience and dignity). Drawing from her book The Art of Gaman: Arts and Crafts from the Japanese American Internment Camps, 1942-1946, this virtual lecture with Delphine Hirasuna looks at the resourceful range of Japanese American creations and how it speaks to the triumph of the human spirit in the midst of despair. Explore the innate artistic talent of everyone from laborers, fishermen, and shopkeepers, as well as renowned artists such as Isamu Noguchi, Neil Fujita, Ruth Asawa, and George Nakashima—all imprisoned in the camps.  

Delphine Hirasuna is the author of The Art of Gaman, which chronicles how those incarcerated by the U.S. War Department turned to using scraps and found materials to make objects of function and artistry. The Art of Gaman and its sequel, All That Remains, are the basis of a traveling exhibition mounted in ten major U.S. museums, including the Smithsonian American Art Museum Renwick Gallery, and a five-city tour of museums in Japan under the auspices of NHK Broadcasting. In addition to her focus on the art of the camps, Hirasuna is the author of more than a dozen books, editor of @Issue: Journal of Business and Design, and a frequent contributor to many design publications.