Monday, January 26, 2009

Prejudice + Pride...a timely reminder

As my wonderful friends at the Salvage Studio mention in their blog, our mutual friend, Julie Sotomura has created an amazing photography exhibit to honor Japanese-Americans who were interned (as was her mother) during WWII.

A local woman, Mary Matsuda Gruenewald has written a touching memoir of her experience. In 1941, Mary was a typical American teenager, attending Vashon Island High School with her friends, and reacting with shock and dismay to the bombing of Pearl Harbor. But after the issuance of Executive Order 9066, Mary's family, along with over 100,000 other innocent Japanese-Americans, was rounded up and sent to an internment camp. Their "crime" was "looking like the enemy". Separated from their homes, jobs, schools, friends and possessions, they had no idea what would happen to them or how long they would be imprisoned.

Aptly named, "Prejudice + Pride, the Faces of Executive Order 9066", Julie's exhibit juxtaposes historical photos with current portraits of 14 Japanese-Americans from the Pacific Northwest. As I read their brief biographies I was literally moved to tears by the grace, courage and optimism demonstrated by these remarkable men and women. I was particularly touched by how many young Japanese-American men served bravely and willingly in the Armed Forces despite the internment of their families.

Julie's project is a timely and powerful reminder of the devastating consequences of persecuting innocent people simply because they "look like the enemy".

Prejudice + Pride opens at the KOBO Gallery at Higo in Seattle’s International District today and runs through February 7. There will be an opening reception on Sunday, February 1 from 1– 5 pm which will be attended by many of Julie's artgirl friends.

Where: KOBO Gallery at Higo
602-608 S. Jackson St, Seattle

Dates: January 26 - February 7

Hours: Mon – Sat: 11am – 6pm
Sunday: Noon – 5pm

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