Center for the Study of Ethnicity and Race at Columbia University is presenting Colors of Confinement: Rare Kodachrome Photographs of Japanese American Confinement in World War II, an extremely rare collection of color photographs of the lives of Japanese Americans behind barbed wire between 1943 and 1944 shot by Bill Manbo, a Japanese American inmate, at the Gallery at the Center, Columbia University, Center for the Study of Ethnicity and Race, Columbia University, 420 Hamilton Hall in New York. The exhibition of photos will be on view through May 12, 2016.
The opening reception in on Monday, December 7, 2015 at 6:00PM, and will be followed by a conversation between Tony Award-winning playwright David Henry Hwang and Star Trek‘s George Takei, who will talk about Allegiance the new Broadway musical that Takei is currently starring in opposite Tony Award winner Lea Salonga, Telly Leung and Michael K. Lee. Allegiance is the vibrant and unforgettable story of one family’s resilience in the face of seemingly-insurmountable odds, inspired by Takei’s real-life experience as a Japanese American during World War II. The talk begins at 7:30PM at 602 Hamilton Hall.
In 1942, Bill Manbo (1908-1992) and his family were forced from their Hollywood home into the Japanese American internment camp at Heart Mountain in Wyoming. While there, Manbo documented both the bleakness and beauty of his surroundings, using Kodachrome film, a technology then just seven years old, to capture community celebrations and to record his family’s struggle to maintain a normal life under the harsh conditions of racial imprisonment.
The photographs on view at the Gallery at the Center, Columbia University, Center for the Study of Ethnicity and Race, Columbia University, 420 Hamilton Hall in New York, through May 12, 2016, are among the sixty-five images featured in the book, Colors of Confinement, Rare Kodachrome Photographs of Japanese American Incarceration in World War II, edited by Eric L. Muller and featuring photographs by Bill Manbo. The book is $35 and can be purchased here.
The subjects of these haunting photos are the routine fare of an amateur photographer: parades, cultural events, people at play, Manbo’s son. But the images are set against the backdrop of the barbed-wire enclosure surrounding the Heart Mountain Relocation Center and the dramatic expanse of Wyoming sky and landscape. The accompanying essays illuminate these scenes as they trace a tumultuous history unfolding just beyond the camera’s lens, giving readers insight into Japanese American cultural life and the stark realities of life in the camps.
Gallery hours of the exhibition are 10:00AM – 4:00PM, Monday through Friday.
Founded in 1999, the Center for the Study of Ethnicity and Race (CSER) at Columbia University is a vibrant teaching, research, and public engagement space. The Center’s mission is to support and promote the most innovative thinking about race, ethnicity, indigeneity and other categories of difference to better understand their role and impact in modern societies. What makes CSER unique is its attention to the comparative study of racial and ethnic categories in the production of social identities, power relations, and forms of knowledge in a multiplicity of contexts, including the arts, social sciences, natural sciences, and humanities.
To promote its mission, the Center organizes conferences, seminars, exhibits, film screenings, and lectures that bring together faculty, as well as undergraduate and graduate students, with diverse interests and backgrounds. CSER partners with departments, centers, and institutes at Columbia and works with colleagues and organizations on campus and off campus in order to facilitate an exchange of knowledge.
Click here for more information on CSER.
Lia Chang is an award-winning filmmaker, a Best Actress nominee, a photographer, and an award-winning multi-platform journalist. Lia has appeared in the films Wolf, New Jack City, A Kiss Before Dying, King of New York, Big Trouble in Little China, The Last Dragon, Taxman and Hide and Seek. She is profiled in Examiner.com, Jade Magazine and Playbill.com.
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