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Americans Interned
Past Exhibit

Americans Interned

June 14 – September 1

Main Gallery

Exhibit Ends September 1

Opening Reception: Thursday, June 21, 5-8pm

Funded in part by City of Everett’s Cultural Arts Commission

The exhibit is a collaboration of Everett artists and Schack Art Center Artists of the Year for 2018, Jan and Chris Hopkins.

Jan is a renowned basketry and sculptural fiber artist working with unconventional natural materials. Her work is exhibited in galleries and private collections across the country. Her husband, Chris, enjoyed a high profile career designing, drawing and painting images for movie poster art in Hollywood, before focusing on works that celebrate compelling stories of American perseverance.

Their recent endeavor was inspired by Jan's desire to learn more about her cultural identity. As a child of interned Japanese Americans, there was a lack of knowledge concerning her heritage or the ordeal her family endured.

Following the bombing of Pearl Harbor in 1941, President Franklin D. Roosevelt issued Executive Order 9066 authorizing the eviction of Japanese Americans from the West Coast.  This order set in motion the mass incarceration of 120,000 people of Japanese ancestry, most of whom were U. S. citizens or legal permanent resident aliens - half were children. When forced to leave their homes with minimal luggage or personal effects, their family history and cultural artifacts were often lost.  

Jan felt a link to her identity was missing. So, together Chris and Jan began a project to tell the story of the WWII Japanese American Internment Camps. Piece by piece, they have created a visual narrative that is both heartbreaking and inspiring.

The project intertwines the personal story of Jan's parents, who met at Camp Harmony, a temporary processing facility at the Puyallup Fairgrounds. From there, they were transferred to a camp in Minidoka, Idaho. Like other detainees, each was released to work to support the war effort. Jan's mom was sent to Chicago to work as a nanny; her father worked for local farmers. Letters sustained their growing attachment and in 1943, they reunited to marry. When released from internment, they were given $25, which got them as far as Nampa, Idaho. There, despite anti-Japanese sentiment, kind people helped them establish a home. And as Jan recalled childhood memories, she was in fourth grade before a mirror made her realize she looked different than her peers.

The exhibit features 34 oil paintings, Sumi ink block prints and graphite drawings, in which Chris details the alienation and loss that characterized the Japanese American Internment, as well as the patriotism and resilience many chose to embrace.

These are complemented by Jan's figurative sculptures along with mixed media works inspired by recently learned stories. Out of the Mouths of Babes, for example, illustrates a story told by her mom about her brothers, who were born shortly after the war. At the ages of 8 and 10 while playing, their friend called out, "Hey, let's play war. You can be the Japs." Confused at the thought of being the enemy, her brother ran home and asked, "Delbert said I'm a Jap. I'm not a Jap, am I?" Taken back by his question, their mom replied in a quiet voice, "You are Japanese American."

This exhibit coincides with Chris & Jan Hopkins retrospective show in the mezzanine gallery in honor of their selection as 2018 Artists of the Year for the Schack Art Center.

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