Scenic Limited: An Incarceration Road Trip

January 29, 2018

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Tomi and Kishiro Yamashita with children Chizu and John at an undokai (picnic). Image courtesy of the Yamashita Family Archives.
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Rohwer, Arkansas. Pinhole image on color negative film, digital print. Photograph by Tosh Tanaka.
The Eloise Pickard Smith Gallery is proud to present "Scenic Limited: An Incarceration Road Trip" in conjunction with the Winter 2018 Living Writers Series. Housed in the John and Ann Dizikes Annex, this exhibition comments on the enduring significance of the forced relocation and incarceration of 110,000-120,000 Japanese American citizens from 1942-1946.

On April 30, 1942, the Yamashita family entered San Bruno California’s Tanforan Racetrack in anticipation of being transported to the Topaz War Relocation Center in Utah. Five days later, Kay Yamashita received a summons to testify in a federal court case. Her mother, Tomi, served as her chaperone as they travelled by train, passing through the Grand Canyon, New Orleans, Boston, and New York.

In the 1990s, Tosh Tanaka began photographing former internment camp sites. Growing up, he was aware of his grandparents’ incarceration and that his parents were born in the detention centers, but their experiences were sparingly discussed. In the absence of an extensive oral history, Tanaka sought to understand this history on a visceral level—by visiting the sites. Using a pinhole camera, Tanaka’s images approximate the fragmented memories carried across generations.

Showcasing a selection of materials from the Yamashita Family Archives in UC Santa Cruz's Special Collections and Archives alongside a series of photographs by Tosh Tanaka, “Scenic Limited” underscores the significance of memory and its preservation in the face of persecution.