President Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s 1942 WWII Executive Order 9066 forced the removal of nearly 125,000 Japanese-American citizens from the west coast, incarcerating them in ten remote internment camps in seven states: Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Idaho, Utah, and Wyoming. Government photographers Dorothea Lange, Russell Lee, and Ansel Adams documented the internment, and artists Toyo Miyatake, Chiura Obata, Henry Sugimoto, and Miné Okubo made powerful records of camp life. Arizona’s two camps (Gila River, Poston) were among the largest, and this chronicle illuminates an important episode of state history, one grounded in national agendas driven by prejudice and fear.
Betsy Fahlman is Professor of Art History at Arizona State University. An authority on the art history of Arizona, her books include New Deal Art in Arizona (2009) and The Cowboy’s Dream: The Mythic Life and Art of Lon Megargee (2002). She is the author of two essays in catalogues published in 2012 by the Museum of Northern Arizona in Flagstaff: “New Women, Southwest Culture: Arizona’s Early Art Community” (in Mary-Russell Ferrell Colton: Artist and Advocate in Early Arizona) and “Making the Cultural Desert Bloom: Arizona’s Early Women Artists” (in Arizona’s Pioneering Women Artists: Impressions of the Grand Canyon State).