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

By Delphine Hirasuna
2005, 128 pages, Hardback.
Book Description from the Front Cover Flap
Comments from Back Cover
About the Author and Collaborators

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Book Description from the Front Cover Flap

In 1942, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066, which led to the incarceration of 120,000 Japanese Americans, including men, women, children, the elderly, and the infirm, for the duration of the war. The evacuation affected the entire Japanese American population on the West Coast. Allowed only what they could carry, they were given just a few days to settle their affairs and report to assembly centers. Businesses were lost, personal property was stolen or vandalized, and lives were shattered. Imprisoned in remote camps surrounded by barbed wire and guarded by soldiers with machine guns, the internees sought solace in art.

The Japanese word gaman (gáh-mon) means enduring the seemingly unbearable with patience and dignity. Struggling to form communities within the camps, the internees practiced gaman through artistic expression-fashioning furniture from scrap lumber, weaving baskets from unraveled twine, making corsages from shells dug up from an ancient seabed. What they created is a celebration of the nobility of the human spirit in adversity. The Art of Gaman presents more than 150 examples of art created by internees, along with a history of the camps complemented by archival photography from Ansel Adams, Clem Albers, and Dorothea Lange. Featuring objects painstakingly gathered from former internees and museum holdings, The Art of Gaman brings together a moving and diverse assemblage of internment art never before shown in one powerful collection.

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Comments from Back Cover

"This is a significant addition to the literature on the World War II experience of Japanese Americans. The Art of Gaman beautifully captures the extraordinary art created 'behind barbed wire.' It poignantly highlights the collections of artifacts-some in museums, most still in private hands-that preserve these important expressions of creativity and survival."
-Irene Hirano, president/CEO, Japanese American National Museum

"The Art of Gaman lovingly illustrates the arts and crafts of the Japanese Americans interned during World War II. Imprisoned by their own government solely on the basis of ancestry, these men and women created beautiful, functional pieces from scrap materials. This is a unique collection, itself a work of art."
-Franklin Odo, director, Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Project

"This beautiful and disturbing book testifies to the persistence of humanity under inhumane conditions. The irony is not lost that Japanese American citizens, whose works are so handsomely shown here, were interned by the very nation they had sought out as a land of opportunity and freedom. Their creations are telling symbols of personal survival in an antagonistic world."
-Samuel Farber, trustee, American Folk Art Museum

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Background on the Author and Collaborators

Delphine Hirasuna, a third-generation (Sansei) Japanese American, is the co-author of several books, including Long May She Wave and the Flavors of Japan cookbook. Her essays on the Japanese American relocation camps have been published in high school textbooks. She is also a corporate editorial consultant serving Fortune 1000 companies nationwide and the editor of the much-acclaimed ©Issue: Journal of Business and Design. In the Japanese American community, she is known for the feature columns she wrote for the Hokubei Mainichi and Rafu Shimpo over a span of twenty-five years. Her family was interned in Jerome and Rohwer, Arkansas, and her father served in Italy with the Nisei 442nd Regimental Combat Team. Delphine lives in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Kit Hinrichs is a partner of the international design firm Pentagram, and has been an influential force in graphic design for more than three decades. His work has been widely honored internationally, and several of his pieces are in the permanent collections of the Museums of Modern Art in New York and San Francisco and the Smithsonian Institution's Cooper-Hewitt Museum. He is also the co-author of several books, including Long May She Wave, which showcases his collection of more than 3,000 American flag memorabilia. He is a medalist of the American Institute of Graphic Arts (AIGA) and a member of the illustrious Alliance Graphique Internationale.

Terry Heffernan is a San Francisco-based photographer and film director. As a large-format still-life specialist, he has produced award-winning photographs for national advertising campaigns, corporate annual reports, and editorial publications. He is also in demand as a tabletop film director, producing television commercials with an emphasis on food. Along with his interpretative photographs of collections in the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum, the Peabody Museum, and the American Museum of Fly Fishing, Heffernan has produced a photographic series of American icons and a portraiture study called "The Last Traveling Side Show in America." He collaborated with Delphine and Kit on Long May She Wave.

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