This project is dedicated to the 120,000 Japanese Americans who were interned during World War II.

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1942: Work in Progress

made in usa: Angel Island Shhh

Photos from Opening Reception

Reception: August 7, 2003
5:00 -7:00 pm
Japanese American Museum of SJ
535 North Fifth Street
San Jose, CA 95112

Museum Hours:
11:00 am to 3:00 pm, Tue. - Fri.
11:00 am to 2:00 pm, Sun.
Closed on Sat. & Mon.
Or by appointment

Symposium: October 11, 2003

1942: Luggage From Home to Camp is a collaboration between the Japanese American Museum and artist Flo Oy Wong. 1942 showcases the stories of six Japanese American residents, Lola Tanaka Abe, Elsie Mayeda Honda, David M. Sakai, Eiichi Edward Sakauye, Esau Shimizu, and Misao Yamano Shiotsuka, who were interned during World War II and now reside in San Jose. This exhibit uses the suitcase as a symbol of the internment experience and as a means to create a legacy of remembrance and healing.

Work in Progress
<click here for photos of the work in progress>

Bob Hsiang

Flo Oy Wong Artist

"When I started my collaboration with the Japanese American Museum of San Jose (JAMsj) on 1942: Luggage From Home To Camp, I didn't realize how much I would be enriched by the 6 project participants and their courageous retelling of their stories. As I sat and listened, the participants described not only the belongings they packed but the process and impact of being taken away from their homes to internment camps. Each former internee retained a heroic spirit of life that the demeaning wartime incarceration could not take away. As they dug deep to retrieve their stories, I could feel their hearts tremble with fear, pain, frustration, and anger. But, as they talked and as they remembered, their dignity and their human spirit triumphed above all."

made in usa: Angel Island Shhh

an installation by Flo Oy Wong


Jimi Yamaichi Barrack design


The partnership between the Japanese American Museum of San Jose (JAMsj) and artist Flo Oy Wong began when she contacted the museum in late 2001 at the suggestion of Diane Matsuda, Director of the California Civil Liberties Public Education Program. Flo and Jerry Hiura met with Ken Iwagaki and me to explore the possibility of working with JAMsj to create an art project that would retrieve memories from former JA internees about what they carried to camp in suitcases in 1942. We liked her unique idea of using suitcases as artistic symbols of the internment experience. After all, suitcases allowed internees to bring the remnants of everyday life into concentration camps during World War II. I was also aware of, and confident in, her ability to create art out of oral histories, as evidenced by her remarkable exhibit, Flo Oy Wong: Angel Island, Immigration and Family Stories, which was shown at the Japanese American National Museum in 2001.




Flo brought to JAMsj her extraordinary artistic talent, her knowledge of the experiences of Chinese immigrants, and her boundless energy; in turn, JAMsj provided informational resources, a list of potential project participants, and a historical perspective regarding the Japanese American experience during World War II. Our collaboration opened up a rare opportunity for the Japanese American community to link with the Chinese American community in order to share our mutual experiences of discrimination and social injustice.

The stars of the exhibition are three women and three men -- Dave Sakai, Lola Abe, Elsie Honda, Misao Shiotsuka, Eiichi Sakauye, and Esau Shimizu. They were selected because of their varying backgrounds, their interest in the project, and their articulateness. They spent many hours becoming reacquainted with their own internment history through photographs, documents, and personal items which they had saved. They courageously opened up to Flo and allowed her to audiotape and videotape them. They shared memories of packing up their belongings during problematic times. Their stories were sometimes funny, sometimes sad, but always riveting.

They also contributed personal items and photos to the project so that Flo could create suitcase art, using actual suitcases taken to camp, in order to honor them.

Working with Flo has been a pleasure as well as a valuable learning experience for me. She is a rare individual -- someone who is artistically creative, with a great sense of style who can, with equal facility, attend to and resolve the real world issues of schedules, fundraising, budget constraints, and project coordination. The resulting exhibit, accompanying catalogue, and project symposium add another chapter to a story that must be kept alive as a reminder for us to remain vigilant in our fight to preserve personal freedom and social justice.

Joseph Y. Yasutake, Ph.D. President, JAMsj Co-Project Director

  The exhibition is supported by

The California Civil Liberties Public Education Program

Applied Materials
Excellence in the Arts, a Program of the Arts Council Silicon Valley

The California Council for the Humanities as part of its statewide California Stories Initiatives

The San Jose Mercury News

Union Bank

Yosh Uchida

Stephen Nakashima

Duncan Iwagaki

and others.

Steering Committee Members:

Joe Yasutake

Ken Iwagaki

Jimi Yamaichi

Project Personnel

Artist: Flo Oy Wong

Project Coordinators:
Flo Oy Wong, Joe Yasutake

Financial Officer: Ken Iwagaki

Exhibition Designer: Jimi Yamaichi

Studio Assistants: Svetlana Bruk, Cecilia Nguyen

Lead Quilter: Amy Higuchi


Writers: Steve Fugita, Krissy Kim, Wendy Ng

Editor: Brian Komei Dempster

Graphic Designer:
Yamaguma & Associates / Design 2 Market: Steve Yamaguma, Han Nguyen and Antoinette Wardell

Photographer: Jim Nagareda



Japanese American Museum of San Jose | Design2Market (Design Consultant) | Jim Nagareda (Photography)

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