Behind Barbed Wire: The Art and Culture of the Internment Camps

Poston, Arizona; War Relocation Center

Following the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066, enabling the Secretary of War and Military Commanders to designate and restrict access to military areas, effectively authorizing the removal of more than 110,000 Japanese Americans living on the West Coast to a series of remote War Relocation Centers.

For the next several years Japanese Americans were incarcerated in internment camps across seven Western states, two of the largest located in Arizona, as part of an effort to curb espionage. By the end of the war only 10 Americans had been convicted of spying for Japan, and none were of Japanese descent.

Betsy Fahlman, Ph.D.

In this program Betsy Fahlman, author and Professor of Art History at Arizona State University, examines the art and culture of the camps through the photographs of Dorothea Lange, Russell Lee and Ansel Adams; images from Toyo Miyatake, a successful photographer who smuggled a lens into Manzanar War Relocation Center and built a makeshift camera; artist and University of California Berkeley professor Chiura Obata, who banded together with fellow artist inmates to establish an art school; and sculptor Isamu Noguchi, who advocated awareness of the patriotism of Japanese-Americans and spent seven months in an Arizona internment camp at his own request.

Included with museum admission; free to museum members.