The Art of Gaman: Arts and Crafts from the Japanese American Internment Camps, 1942 - 1946

July 3 - October 12, 2014

The Art of Gaman showcases more than 120 artifacts made by Japanese Americans while incarcerated in camps during World War II. It explores the creativity and ingenuity of these internees, as well as the Japanese concept of gaman, "to endure the seemingly unbearable with patience and dignity." Works, ranging from tools, everyday objects, woodcarvings, paintings, furniture, toys, and more, are presented with historical context through photographs, documents, and films. Most of the objects on view are on loan from former internees or their families, but The Art of Gaman also includes works by renowned artists such as Ruth Asawa, Jimmy Tsutomu Mirikitani, Chiura Obata, and Henry Sugimoto. A dark, yet important chapter in American history, The Art of Gaman is a moving display of perseverance, resourcefulness, and the power of the human spirit.


Kametaro Matsumoto, Puzzle
Paint, wood, lacquer. 7½ x 6 x ½ in.
Courtesy of Delphine Hirasuna

Photo: Terry Heffernan

The Art of Gaman is organized and curated by author Delphine Hirasuna, in partnership with the Japanese American Citizens League and advisory support from the Smithsonian American Art Museum. The local presentation of this exhibition is curated by Stefano Catalani.