Out of bleak surroundings and the deprivation of civil liberties, music, art and culture bloomed out of the desert during the war. Some artists flourished once released from the camps, reaching new heights in their fields.
“For Joy” (2019, 15 min.) by Julian Saporiti. Singer-songwriter and Ph.D. student Julian Saporiti along with his Brown University classmate Erin Aoyama travel to Hawai‘i to meet Joy Teraoka, the singer for the George Igawa Orchestra, a jazz band which formed in the WWII prison camp at Heart Mountain, Wyo., shedding light on the role music played during the Japanese American incarceration.
“Hidden Legacy: Japanese Traditional Performing Arts in the World War II Internment Camps” (2014, 57 min.) by Shirley Muramoto. This film unveils Japanese traditional arts that continued while Japanese Americans were imprisoned during World War II, at a time when the War Relocation Authority pushed for assimilation and Americanization. They helped to build cultural pride and self-esteem, and to draw attention away from the bleak surroundings while imprisoned in the desert.
“Masters of Modern Design: The Art of the Japanese American Experience” (2019, 57 min.) by Akira Boch. This film tells the story of five legendary artists — Ruth Asawa (artist), Gyo Obata (architect), Isamu Noguchi (sculptor), George Nakashima (furniture designer), and S. Neil Fujita (graphic designer). It explores the ways in which their camp experiences impacted their lives and influenced their art.