Artwork by Japanese-American internment camp prisoners at CALS
Artwork by Japanese-American internment camp prisoners at CALS – Arkansas Times
An exhibit featuring artwork made by Japanese Americans while imprisoned in Desha County internment camps during World War II is now on display in the Underground Gallery on the Central Arkansas Library System main campus in downtown Little Rock.
Many of the pieces were created by children and adults in classes taught by Mabel Rose Jamison “Jamie” Vogel, a white woman who preserved a remarkable amount of art and artifacts by her incarcerated students. Her collection was eventually donated to the Butler Center for Arkansas Studies.
Though there are some interesting renderings of the grounds at Rohwer and Jerome where the prisoners lived and a handful of sculptures, the most striking part of the exhibit is the 30 or so portraits, many of which are fairly simple drawings done with pencil and paper. Because cameras were typically forbidden in the camps, portraits became a substitute method of documenting memories of friends and family. The pieces range in their sophistication, but they’re an intimate window into how a group of actively oppressed people managed to still see themselves humanely.