July 1, 2010

Pictures from the past and present

Posted in Civil Liberties Symposium, Minidoka Pilgrimage tagged , , , , , at 3:02 pm by rkozu

Here’s an article that the Magic Valley Times wrote about the Civil Liberties Symposium in Twin Falls this past weekend.


Pictures from the past and present

By Ben Botkin – Times-News writer | Posted: Friday, June 25, 2010 1:00 am

They are frozen in time, these black-and-white images from a chapter of World War II sometimes overlooked amid the stories of soldiers, battles and sacrifices.

For them, it was different.

They were Americans living on U.S. soil who saw their sons off to war and welcomed them back. But as Japanese-Americans, they lived out World War II in internment camps, a decision that the federal government made for them after Japan attacked Pearl Harbor in 1941.

Photographs from the internment camps, including nearby Minidoka, brought those images back for the audience of almost 200 on Thursday, the first day of the Civil Liberties & the Arts Symposium V at Canyon Crest Dining and Event Center in Twin Falls. The two-day symposium, organized by the Minidoka National Historic Site, Friends of Minidoka and the College of Southern Idaho, has an emphasis this year on the civil liberty issues surrounding the internment camps and the artwork shaped by that era.

“History is only important as long as you can apply the lessons you learn today,” said Emily Momohara, an artist and assistant professor from the Art Academy of Cincinnati.

Momohara showed the audience photographs taken when Japanese-Americans lived in internment camps, as well as pictures taken in this generation that capture the remnants of those places.

On a large screen, photographs showed a multitude of scenes: a soldier visiting family, women waiting for returning soldiers and a baseball team posing for a photo. But some photos brought reminders of suffering: a child waiting near luggage during a move away from home, and a grandmother holding a child and preparing to leave for a camp.

The photographers of World War II came from different backgrounds. The federal government had its photographers. The Japanese-Americans weren’t permitted to have cameras, though one managed to get a camera into his camp by disassembling it and stowing the pieces throughout his luggage.

Today, photographers take images of empty internment cots and buildings, using shades of dark against the landscapes to reflect emotions. But in some photos, the human images remain, now of those who descended from the Japanese-American generation of World War II.

Ben Botkin may be reached at bbotkin@magicvalley.com or 735-3238.

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