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Witness to Wartime
April 17, 2018 @ 6:30 pm - 8:00 pm
One event on April 17, 2018 at 5:30pm
Witness to Wartime exhibition highlights political internment
through the eyes of 20th Century Japanese-American artist Takuichi Fujii.
Press Release – February 27, 2017 | Alexandria, Louisiana —
Witness to Wartime: The Painted Diary of Takuichi Fujii, introduces an artist whose work opens a window to historical events, issues, and ideas far greater than the individual. Takuichi Fujii (1891 – 1964) bore witness to his life in America and, most especially, to his experience during World War II. Fujii left a remarkably comprehensive visual record of this important time in American history, and offers a unique perspective on his generation. This stunning body of work sheds light on events that most Americans did not experience, but whose lessons remain salient today.
After the attacks at Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941 helped to urge the United States to join the war, President Franklin D. Roosevelt passed Executive Order 9066, which led to the removal of many people of Japanese descent from their homes in California and the West Coast. These people were relocated to internment camps throughout the country, including south Arkansas and Camp Livingston in Central Louisiana. From May 1942 until October 1945, Takuichi Fujii depicted the scenery of Puyallup detention center and Minidoka relocation center where he was relocated. These works show the daily lives, past times, and living conditions of the internees. The exhibit also includes his diary, books, and sculptural work during the time as well. Takuichi Fujii was fifty years old when war broke out between the United States and Japan. In a climate of increasing fear and racist propaganda, he became one of 120,000 people of Japanese ancestry on the West Coast forced to leave their homes and live in geographically isolated incarceration camps. He and his family, together with most ethnic Japanese from Seattle, were sent first to the Puyallup temporary detention camp on the Washington State Fairgrounds, and in August 1942 were transferred to the Minidoka Relocation Center in southern Idaho. Confronting such circumstances, Fujii began an illustrated diary that spans the years from his forced removal in May 1942 to the closing of Minidoka in October 1945. In nearly 250 ink drawings ranging from public to intimate views, the diary depicts detailed images of the incarceration camps, and the inmates’ daily routines and pastimes. Several times Fujii depicts himself in the act of drawing, a witness to the experience of confinement. He also produced over 130 watercolors that reiterate and expand upon the diary, augmenting those scenes with many new views, as well as other aesthetic and formal considerations of painting. Additionally the wartime work includes several oil paintings and sculptures, notably a carved double portrait of Fujii and his wife. After the war Fujii moved to Chicago, which had become home to a large Japanese American community under the government’s resettlement program. He continued to paint, experimenting broadly in abstraction, and toward the end of his life produced a series of boldly gestural black-and-white abstract expressionist paintings. These, and his American realist paintings of the 1930s, frame the wartime work that is his singular legacy and remains relevant today.
This exhibition connects to Central Louisiana through the inclusion of information and artifacts related to the experience of Japanese Americans in Central Louisiana during World War II. Camp Livingston was home to internees, prisoners of war, and military during the war, a fact which is not well known in the area. Another aspect is told through respected members of the Alexandria community, the Kohara family, who was investigated after Pearl Harbor but were not interred. They actually provided photography services for the military throughout the war and visited other internment camps in south Arkansas. In addition, the family played host to numerous relatives of internees, Japanese American members of the military and others of Japanese descent who came to the area during the war.
Witness to Wartime: Takuichi Fujii will be on view at the Alexandria Museum of Art from March 2 – June 23, 2018, and is curated by Barbara Johns, PhD, and the traveling exhibition is organized by Curatorial Assistance Traveling Exhibitions, Pasadena, California.
Free supporting programs include:
Curator’s Tour of Witness to Wartime • Friday, March 2nd, 2018 • 7 pm
Join us at the opening reception of “Witness to Wartime: the Painted Diary of Takuichi Fujii” when exhibit curator Barbara Johns, PhD, will lead a Curator’s tour of the exhibition. Johns also wrote a book about Takuichi Fujii entitled “The Hope of Another Spring: Takuichi Fujii, Artist and Wartime Witness.”
Panel Discussion: Camp Livingston and World War II • Tuesday, April 17, 2018 • 5:30 – 7pm
Come join AMoA staff and our guest panel as we discuss Camp Livingston and central Louisiana during the Second World War. Made up of scholars who have researched the war and the camp as well as a member of the Kohara family, this discussion will focus on the experiences of those who were interned and worked with Camp Livingston.
About the Alexandria Museum of Art: The Alexandria Museum of Art opened in October 1977 as the public organ of the Central Louisiana Art Association, which had existed since 1938. Since its inception, the Museum was housed in a complex dominated by the historic Rapides Bank Building, c. 1898, a National Register structure. The Mission of the Alexandria Museum of Art is to foster a culturally rich community by engaging, enlightening and inspiring individuals through innovative art experiences. For additional information visit www.themuseum.org.