Friday, March 31, 2017

Hallowed Ground

I was asked to do some paintings for the Tule Lake Pilgrimage in 2016.  The theme was Hallowed Ground. As I thought about the theme, I  envisioned the grounds of the camps as a spiritual, haunted and ghost like, and the underground buried with layers of stories to tell.

HG1, names the gulag of concentration camps as if they were ready to be called out in a roll call.

HG2, depicts the inmates lined up at the communal mess hall.  Lines to  eat, to use the shower, the latrines, movie night, and laundry rooms were a familiar sight, with approximately 8,000 to 20,0000 people incarcerated at each camp. The familiar sight of Tule Lake's iconic Castle Rock is prominent in the background.

HG3,  A family looking out between the barbed wire, with their individual identity tags (which are made of acetate),  hanging from the fence.  They stand on Hallowed Ground, depicted with memories of the lives they left behind and the reasons they find themselves incarcerated at Tule Lake.

HG4,  is a protest poster.  On it is an original poster of Executive Order 9066, the loyalty survey's questions 27 and 28.  If they answered "No...No..." or did not respond at all , they were labeled "disloyals" and  "troublemakers".

HG5, Despair:  Families were torn apart as discord surrounded them.  Pressures mounted from within and without family units, and pitted families and friends against each other.

HG6, Tule Lake had 28 guard towers overlooking the troubled prison.  This was more than any of the other camps.

HG7, Survival. This painting depicts three Japanese cultural characteristics that comprised the survival mantra of Nikkei during and after the war:  "gaman" (be patient... endure the unendurable),  "shikataganai" (nothing can be done),  and "kodomo no tame ni" (for the sake of the children).

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