In an atmosphere of World War II hysteria, President Roosevelt, encouraged by officials at all levels of the federal government, authorized the internment of tens of thousands of American citizens of Japanese ancestry and resident aliens from Japan. Roosevelt’s Executive Order 9066, dated February 19, 1942, gave the military broad powers to ban any citizen from a fifty- to sixty-mile-wide coastal area stretching from Washington state to California and extending inland into southern Arizona. The order also authorized transporting these citizens to assembly centers hastily set up and governed by the military in California, Arizona, Washington state, and Oregon.
My first visual experience of this event was intially through the images of documentary photographers Dorothea Lange and Toyo Miyatake. My family was directly affected by the evacuation: but little was mentioned of this by my mother, or grandparents. This chapter in my family history was heavily veiled: because of this, I avoided any association with this connection: partially out of suppressed anger, partially out of just wanting to move forward.
I was awarded an artist-in-residency opportunity at SUNY Purchase in Fall 2008 - and decided to immerse myself in research and investigation of Executive Order 9066 and its effect on the Japanese American psyche as I know it now. This is just the beginning and it is a point of departure.