The View from Within: Japanese American Art from the Internment Camps, 1942-1945 (exhibition)


The first-ever national exhibition of more than 130 paintings and other works of art produced by Japanese American artists during their incarceration in the World War II American concentration camps, timed to commemorate the 50-year anniversary of the signing of Executive Order 9066, which authorized the mass incarceration of over 120,000 Japanese Americans. The exhibition was curated by Karin Higa and jointly coordinated by the Japanese American National Museum, the UCLA Wight Art Gallery, and the UCLA Asian American Studies Center. It first opened at the Wight Art Gallery in Los Angeles on October 13, 1992, and ran until December 6, 1992, then subsequently traveled to the San Jose Museum of Art (January 15-April 10, 1994), Salt Lake Art Center (July 1994), Honolulu Academy of Arts (September 1994), and the Queens Museum New York (May 11-July 16, 1995).

While The View From Within was not the first exhibition of art made in the camps, it was the largest collection of Japanese American artwork from this time period and the first to exhibit nationally. Research for the exhibit discovered a surprising number of professional artists that were incarcerated and who had produced work in camp, including artists that were previously unknown. With only one exception, all of the work in the exhibition were executed between 1942 to 1945 and created predominately by Issei artists. The works were made in temporary assembly centers, War Relocation Authority concentration camps, Justice Department/FBI internment centers, or military detention camps such as those on the Hawaiian Islands and included paintings, drawings, printmaking, and sculpture.

An accompanying full-color catalog with an introduction by exhibition curator Karin Higa and full biographies of all artists was published in 1992 by the Japanese American National Museum and distributed by the University of Washington Press.[1] According to Higa's introduction, "The biggest obstacle in organizing an exhibition of this kind is finding the art. For every painting or drawing saved, many others were lost. For every artist included in this exhibition, there must be others who have not been identified or acknowledged."

Authored by Patricia Wakida

For More Information

Higa, Karin ed. The View From Within : Japanese American Art from the Internment Camps, 1942-1945. Seattle: University of Washington Press, 1992.

Wilson, William. "Persistence of Grace Shines in 'The View From Within'." Los Angeles Times, October 15, 1992. http://articles.latimes.com/1992-10-15/entertainment/ca-88_1_american-art.

Footnotes

  1. Karin Higa, "Introduction," The View from Within, (Seattle: University of Washington Press, 1992), 16.