The Art of Gaman: The Bird Artist
May 20, 2010
Wes Yamaka recently wrote a comment about his father-in-law on our The Art of Gaman exhibition comment page. We'd like to post it on Eye Level as a testament to the personal stories that have been passed down from internees in the camps.
My wife's (Rose) father (Mr. Giichi Sase) was interned at Poston during WW II. He worked as a farmer in California's Imperial Valley. Rose did not know her dad to be any kind of craftsperson or gifted in the visual arts. Her father, not having a farm to tend, had "free" time, the first time in his life. She did not know that he took up carving wooden birds.
Recently we received a treasure trove of his works, about a dozen birds and the tools with which he was able to do his delicate carving. They are indeed fine works of art.
On leaving the camp he stopped carving. Before his death he took up writing poetry. These gifts of artistry were latent in him. Incarcerated, his latent gifts were allowed to flourish. Indeed, his was the art of gaman, to endure and to discover the artist within!
The exhibition The Art of Gaman: Arts and Crafts from the Japanese Internment Camps, 1942-1946 continues at our Renwick Gallery through January 30, 2011.
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