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“We Hereby Refuse” artwork on display in Rhode Island

Artwork from We Hereby Refuse is on display in a new exhibit that opens January 13 at the Museum of Work & Culture in Woonsocket, Rhode Island.

Our thanks to Erin Aoyama, Ph.D. candidate at Brown University, for putting us in touch with Exhibit & Program Coordinator Deborah Krieger. Deborah supplemented her Smithsonian traveling poster exhibit on the incarceration with enlarged pages from our graphic novel, as drawn by Ross Ishikawa, showing the maps of the camps and historical quotes from elected officials and wartime JACL leaders. She also displayed pages showing Tule Lake, and the final two pages of the graphic novel, as drawn by Matt Sasaki.

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Exhibit curator Deborah Krieger hanging a panel from the Tule Lake story in “We Hereby Refuse.”

I was pleased to see how the artwork and text work outside the context of the book to set up the historical context for exhibit visitors and students, and how the ending stands on its own to show how that history is still being repeated today.

More from the museum’s press release:

The Museum of Work & Culture is excited to present Righting a Wrong: Japanese Americans and World War II, a poster exhibit from the Smithsonian Institution. The exhibit will open on Thursday, January 13, 2022, and will remain in the changing gallery through March.

The Righting a Wrong: Japanese Americans and World War II poster exhibition traces the story of Japanese national and Japanese American incarceration during World War II and the people who survived it. Some 40 years later, members of the Japanese American community led the nation to confront the wrong it had done—and urged Congress to make it right.

Based on an original exhibition at the National Museum of American History, the Righting a Wrong poster exhibition centers around eight core questions that encourage viewers to engage in a dialogue about how this happened and could it happen again. Embracing themes that are as relevant today as they were 75 years ago, the poster exhibition brings forth themes of identity, immigration, prejudice, civil rights, courage, and what it means to be an American.

Complimenting the Smithsonian poster exhibit, the Museum will also offer a short documentary, musical reflections, informational videos, explanatory texts, illustrative graphic novel panels, a digital exhibit, visual art, and a book nook where visitors can learn about Japanese American experiences during this time period through classic children’s books.

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In addition, the Museum will host a variety of virtual programs over the course of the exhibit’s installation, sponsored by the New England Japanese American Citizens League. These include:

Sunday, January 23, 1:00pm: “The Power of Objects”
Smithsonian Museum Specialist and Righting a Wrong co-curator Noriko Sanefuji highlights the work being done to tell the story of Japanese American incarceration through artifacts. Individuals can register for the talk here.

Saturday, February 19, 2022, 1:00pm: “Day of Remembrance 2022: Executive Order 9066 and Its Legacies”
Ken Nomiyama (Tule Lake Committee) and Jim McIlwain (New England Japanese American Citizens League) will speak on the 80th Day of Remembrance, discussing President Roosevelt’s Executive Order 9066 and its consequences during World War II and today. Individuals can register for the talk here.

Saturday, March 12, 2022, 1:00pm: Title TBD
David Sakura, Ph.D., and guests will engage in conversation about their experiences, and their families’ experiences, during and after World War II. This program will be moderated by Erin Aoyama, Ph.D. candidate in American Studies, Brown University.

February: Video Program, Title TBD
Illustrator Rae Kuruhara celebrates Japanese American food culture by demonstrating how to make onigiri and spam musubi in two short videos and a comic.

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Righting a Wrong: Japanese Americans and World War IIwas developed by the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History and adapted for travel by the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service. The traveling exhibition and poster exhibition are supported by a grant from the Asian Pacific American Initiatives Pool, administered by the Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center; the Terasaki Family Foundation and C.L. Ehn & Ginger Lew.

SITES has been sharing the wealth of Smithsonian collections and research programs with millions of people outside Washington, D.C., for more than 65 years. SITES connects Americans to their shared cultural heritage through a wide range of exhibitions about art, science and history, which are shown wherever people live, work and play. For exhibition description and tour schedules, visit sites.si.edu.

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