Japanese Confinement Historical Exhibit at The San Joaquin County Historical Museum


The Art of Survival: Enduring the Turmoil of Tule Lake is a traveling exhibition by fine art photographer Hiroshi Watanabe that probes the complexity of the Japanese American confinement site in Newell, California.

Tule Lake became the only officially designated segregation center during WWII. Ruled under martial law, it was the most controversial of all the Camps.

Through haunting images of artifacts by Watanabe, visitors get to glimpse into the lives of those who were held at Tule Lake and are encouraged to consider both the orchestration of daily life behind barbed wire and what it might have been like to live with constant turmoil and uncertainty.

Photo by Hiroshi Watanabe
Photo by Hiroshi Watanabe

“Watanabe has succeeded in bearing witness to a chapter in U.S. history that Americans must not forget,” said JoAnne Northrup, director of contemporary art initiatives at the Nevada Museum of Art.

Oral histories allow visitors to hear varying views on some of the complex issues of Tule Lake in the voices of those held captive. And the art created both then and now, made from seemingly insignificant objects, beckons humility and connection.

Promoting education and increased awareness of what can happen when a nation loses reason to fear, this exhibition is designed to inspire critical thinking and action in regards to injustice. It also highlights the power of creativity to maintain dignity and wellbeing in times of harsh circumstance.

As well as looking at daily life, the exhibition explores the following topics: the power of propaganda; up-to-date terminology relating to the confinement experience; the history behind the incarceration; the difference between a Segregation Center and a Confinement Site; who were the people deemed “disloyal”, were they disloyal?; what happened when the Camp closed?

The Art of Survival: Enduring the Turmoil of Tule Lake will be on display till October 19th at the San Joaquin County Historical Museum, 11793 N Micke Grove Rd, in Lodi.

Watanabe’s powerful black and white images are featured in fine art galleries world wide, including Zurich, Munich, New York, Santa


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