I Want the Wide American Earth’s promotional video is released!

JANM's 2013 interns celebrate the end of a great summer internship!
JANM’s 2013 interns celebrate the end of a great summer internship!

Every summer the Getty Foundation organizes a Multicultural Undergraduate Internship program in Los Angeles that aims to encourage greater diversity in the professions related to museums and the visual arts. This year JANM hired three interns—Kelly in Media Arts, Cindi in Production, and myself, Esther, in the Curatorial department.

For the majority of the summer we worked separately, but for the last few weeks, we worked together to produce a final collaboration project which would culminate in a promotional video for the exhibition, I Want the Wide American Earth: An Asian Pacific American Story.

Media Arts intern, Kelly, searches for artifacts on JANM's database.
Media Arts intern, Kelly, searches for artifacts on JANM’s database.

As the exhibition  takes a sweeping look at how Asian Pacific Americans have shaped and been shaped by the course of U.S. history, we decided to interview Asian Pacific Americans of different ethnicities, backgrounds, and occupations on a variety of topics. Our central question was “What do you want from your America?”. We also asked each interviewee to finish the sentence “I am…”. We got a wide array of answers that allows any viewer to appreciate the cultural, historical, and social diversity among Asian Pacific Americans.

Cindi and Esther are guided through JANM's artifacts by Collections  Manager, Maggie Wetherbee.
The interns are guided through the Collections Department by JANM’s Collections Manager, Maggie Wetherbee.

For footage we used photographs from the exhibition itself, and made stops around Downtown Los Angeles’ Little Tokyo and Chinatown. We also visited our own Collections Department at JANM to photograph artifacts and photographs that were relevant to the exhibition. It was an exciting day because we saw how expansive our Collections Department is, and we got to personally handle artifacts!

A shot from Wong Fu Productions'  "10 Year Anniversary" clip.
A shot from Wong Fu Productions’ “10 Year Anniversary” clip.

We were also granted permission from Youtube stars including, fitness instructor Cassey Ho from Blogilates, singers David Choi and Clara C, and Wong Fu Productions for our preview clip. Although we did not use all of these clips for our final video, we were able to get exciting experience communicating with professionals, and were able compile more than enough footage so that we had many options while editing our video.

Check out our final video to see who’s footage and interviews made it into our collaboration project!

Curatorial intern, Esther carefully handling a "Justice for Vincent Chin" pin from the 80s.
Curatorial intern, Esther, carefully handling a “Justice for Vincent Chin” pin from the ’80s.

 

It was a time-consuming project, but it was also a great experience because we were able to collaborate with each other, appreciate each of our talents, and examine how different departments come together to produce a project. For us, this experience reinforced the fact that museums, including JANM, are not made up of individuals working separately, but rather, individuals working and collaborating together to produce something great!

 

Cindi, JANM's 2013 production intern, designing a event flyer.
Cindi, JANM’s 2013 production intern, designing an event flyer.

If you haven’t seen it already, I Want the Wide American Earth is on display at JANM until October 27th. Also, be sure to catch Our American Voice—a special two-person show starring Traci Kato-Kiriyama, and Johnny Kwon (also the narrators of our final video), exploring six diverse stories of Asian Pacific Americans. This special performance was produced in partnership with East West Players, and will be performed at 1pm in the exhibition gallery every Saturday for the duration of the exhibition.

Photos by: Kelly Gates, and Esther Shin.

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For more information on I Want the Wide American Earth: An Asian Pacific American Story, visit: janm.org/wide-american-earth.

 

Thank you for joining us in Seattle!

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Thank you to the over 500 people who joined us at our fourth National Conference, Speaking Up! Democracy, Justice, Dignity, held July 4–7 in Seattle, Washington.

Participants came from around the nation, as well as from Canada and Japan to participate in a jam-packed program commemorating the 25th anniversary of the signing of the Civil Liberties Act.  [See below for a video of Secretary Norman Mineta’s keynote address at the dinner banquet on July 6.]

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We are now going through the photos, video footage, and audio recordings of the conference so that we can make them available on the Web. But for now, because we are so excited about all of the media, wanted to preview just a few of the photos and to say THANK YOU for helping make the conference unforgettable!  And a special THANK YOU to the folks in Seattle for sharing the history of their wonderful city with us.

(Photos by Tracy Kumono)

 

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Witness: The Legacy of Heart Mountain

Witness: The Legacy of Heart Mountain (Photo from ABC 7; David Ono)
Witness: The Legacy of Heart Mountain (ABC 7; David Ono)

In the eyes of ABC 7 Eyewitness News Anchor David Ono, lessons from the Heart Mountain concentration camps still resonate today. In the four-part special, Witness: The Legacy of Heart Mountain, Ono explores the camp’s history and legacy.

Witness tells the story of the camp through photos from the Hirahara collection. While incarcerated at Heart Mountain, Patti Hirahara’s father and grandfather—both avid photographers—secretly built a darkroom under their barrack. They would go on to shoot and print over 2,000 photos cataloguing life inside the camp. Interspersed are interviews with those connected to the camps, from those incarcerated such as Judge Lance Ito and his mother, to Shirley Higuchi, Chair of the Heart Mountain Wyoming Foundation Board of Directors.

The Japanese American National Museum plays a role in this documentary as well. Several interviews were filmed in the Museum’s Common Ground: The Heart of Community exhibition, supplemented by archival footage from the Museum’s permanent collection.

David Ono’s Witness is a moving look into the Japanese American experience during some of America’s darkest hours, told by the people who witnessed it firsthand and complemented by striking photos from inside the camps.

“Common Ground” Volunteer Videos

Visitors to the museum often remark that what made their experience so special was getting to hear and talk to our volunteer docents. They share stories with our visitors that bring the artifacts in our Common Ground: The Heart of Community to life.

An ongoing project at the museum has been for our staff & interns in the Watase Media Arts Center, curatorial, and education units to work with some of our volunteers to develop 30 second (approximately) short videos talking about their favorite artifacts from Common Ground. The project is part of an ongoing effort to examine and re-envision the role the Museum and our volunteers will play in the 21st Century.

This is a wonderful project to record and share the stories especially of some of our older long-time Nisei volunteers while they’re still active at the museum.

We’re now up to 25 volunteer videos online. The most common artifact selected is the Heart Mountain barracks which makes an appearance in 3 videos. Although most are World War II-related, several are about pre-war Issei and Nisei life. While many are very poignant, some are humorous, like Marion Wada’s selection of a Hershey’s chocolate tin which recalls fond memories of childhood prior to WWII.

For those connected with the museum or have gone on tours here, you’ll recognize a lot of very familiar and dear faces. I’ve included a few of the more recent videos here, but you can view all of the videos from our Discover Nikkei website or on YouTube. Which ones are your favorites?

We’d like to thank the participating volunteers for sharing their personal stories: Ike Hatchimonji, Charlene Takahashi, Icy Hasama, Marion Wada, Mary Karatsu, Hitoshi Sameshima, Bill Shishima, Nancee Iketani, Ben Tonooka, Pat Ishida, Bob Uragami, Babe Karasawa, Yae Aihara, Richard Murakami, Yoko Horimoto, Jim Tanaka, Tohru Isobe, Mas Yamashita, Robert Moriguchi, Kathryn Madara, Kent Hori, May Porter, Eileen Sakamoto, Lee Hayashi, and Roy Sakamoto.

Funding for the Nisei Oral History project was provided by grants from the National Park Service and the California State Library through the California Civil Liberties Public Education Program.

Support for volunteer programming was generously provided, in part, by Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A., Inc., The William Randolph Hearst Foundation, and The Ralph M. Parsons Foundation. The internships were provided through the Summer 2010 Getty Grants Program for Multicultural Undergraduate Internships to Los Angeles Area Museums & Visual Arts Organizations.

 

Car designer Larry Shinoda

When you walk into the museum now, one of the first things you notice as you enter the front doors to the Pavilion is a 1963 Corvette Sting Ray. I pass by the car every day on the way to my office, and I always see visitors stopping to admire it.

Photo by Gary Ono

But why a Corvette in the Japanese American National Museum?

It’s because it was designed by Japanese American automotive designer Larry Shinoda, and it’s part of the Drawing the Line: Japanese American Art, Design & Activism exhibition on view through February 19, 2012.

Untitled drawing (Stingray), Larry Shinoda. Pencil on paper. Gift of the Shinoda Family, Japanese American National Museum (2003.124.3).

Upstairs in the exhibition galleries, we also have a number of his original drawings and sketches of various other cars he designed like the Mako Shark concept car, and the Boss Mustang. There’s also a bunch of historic photos, trophies, and other memorabilia that were donated to the museum by his family after his passing in 1997.

I have to admit that I don’t know much about cars, but the aerodynamic sporty style is very cool to see, and his personal story is very interesting too. His father died when he was a young child. From early on, he was always interested in cars and in drawing. He and his family were incarcerated at Manzanar during WWII. After the war, he grew up in Southern California where he built and raced cars, leading to his work designing and building cars.

The Watase Media Arts Center created a video about Shinoda for the exhibition with interviews with his sister and a long-time good friend:

The video is included on the exhibition DVD available for purchase through the Museum Store: Drawing the Line: Japanese American Art, Design & Activism in Post-War Los Angeles (DVD) >>

By the way…Shinoda didn’t just design cars. He also worked on pretty much anything that moves such as Roger Penske’s race trailers, motor homes, tractors, big rig trucks, and even the Goodyear Blimp logo. And for those who were wondering…no, he’s not related to the other famous Shinoda that we have featured at the museum!

One more bit of trivia…the wedding dress currently on display in our Common Ground exhibition was made by Larry Shinoda’s mother!

GIDRA magazine

Our award-winning Watase Media Arts Center recently produced ten new videos for the Drawing the Line: Japanese American Art, Design & Activism exhibition (on view through February 19, 2012).

For those who can’t make it down to see the exhibition or prefer to watch it from the comfort of your own home, we will be sharing them online over the next few months.

The first video up is about Gidra, the seminal magazine of the Asian American movement published from April 1969 to April 1974.

We also have scans from 4 full issues on Discover Nikkei:
April 1969 (first issue) | January 1971February 1973April 1974 (final issue)

For those of you who worked on, contributed to, or read Gidra, please take this survey: Did you Gidra survey >>

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We’ll be posting new videos weekly. So check back for the links.

We’re pulling them together into a Drawing the Line playlist on our JANM YouTube channel too.

All of the videos are also available on DVD from the Museum Store: Drawing the Line DVD >>

30-second volunteer videos

Our volunteers are amazing. They continually inspire us with their dedication and enthusiasm. They are even willing to step outside their comfort zones if it means helping the museum to share the important stories of the Japanese American experience.

Since last summer, staff at our Watase Media Arts Center along with interns and volunteers have been working on a series of digital shorts that record many of our docents and other volunteers. The videos share the volunteer’s personal stories related to artifacts from our core Common Ground: The Heart of Community exhibition.

We’re collecting them together for easy access on our Discover Nikkei website. There are already 15 of the videos online, with more being added almost weekly.

Check out the volunteer videos on Discover Nikkei:

The 21st Century Museum: Significant artifacts selected by Japanese American National Museum Volunteers
http://5dn.org/janm-vols

Volunteers featured so far: Bob Uragami, Babe Karasawa, Yae Aihara, Richard Murakami, Yoko Horimoto, Jim Tanaka, Tohru Isobe, Mas Yamashita, Robert Moriguchi, Kathryn Madara, Kent Hori, May Porter, Eileen Sakamoto, Lee Hayashi, and Roy Sakamoto.

Here are the three most recently uploaded videos:


Miss Kato, Canadian Rodeo Queen, Los Angeles, California, 1955. Japanese American National Museum Toyo Miyatake/Rafu Shimpo Collection, photograph by Toyo Miyatake Studio, gift of the Alan Miyatake Family. (96.267.316)

Nikkei community newspapers

Miss Kato, Canadian Rodeo Queen, Los Angeles, California, 1955. Japanese American National Museum Toyo Miyatake/Rafu Shimpo Collection, photograph by Toyo Miyatake Studio, gift of the Alan Miyatake Family. (96.267.316)
Miss Kato, Canadian Rodeo Queen, Los Angeles, California, 1955. Japanese American National Museum Toyo Miyatake/Rafu Shimpo Collection, photograph by Toyo Miyatake Studio, gift of the Alan Miyatake Family. (96.267.316)

Nikkei newspapers like The Rafu Shimpo in Los Angeles and the Nichi Bei up in San Francisco have served important roles since the early Issei immigrants began establishing communities across the United States.

Last spring, our Discover Nikkei team began working on a project to share stories about some of these publications and organize a public program. On April 2, 2011, we presented “From Newsprint to New Media: The Evolving Role of Nikkei Newspaper” in the Tateuchi Democracy Forum in partnership with The Rafu Shimpo, Nichi Bei Foundation/Nichi Bei Weekly, Cultural News, and Nikkei Nation.

The program included a historical overview by Gil Asakawa and presentations by panelists Gwen Muranaka (Rafu Shimpo), Kenji Taguma, (Nichi Bei Foundation/Nichi Bei Weekly), Shigeharu Higashi (Cultural News), and George Johnston (Nikkei Nation). The presentations were followed by a moderated discussion and questions from the audience covering topics such as the coverage of the earthquake and tsunami in Japan, as well as local relief efforts; the viability of Nikkei media and the closing of some longtime newspapers in recent years; how can Nikkei media change to be relevant to younger demographics without alienating older generations; and the use and role of social media.

Participants of the "From Newsprint to New Media: The Evolving Role of Nikkei Newspapers" program on April 2, 2011

For those who missed the program, we now have video footage from the program online on Discover Nikkei:
From Newsprint to New Media: The Evolving Role of Nikkei Newspapers, April 2, 2011

View articles about Nikkei community newspapers on Discover Nikkei >>

View photos from Museum’s Toyo Miyatake Studio / Rafu Shimpo Collection >>

Xploration Lab

X-Lab Visitor Videos!

Our newest, most current exhibit, Xploration Lab, is a part-classroom, part-prototype “black box” exhibit. Visitors can participate and experiment with hands-on activities designed to engage audiences of all ages about the World War II Japanese American experience.

In laying the groundwork for X-Lab, our team of curators, education specialists, media arts producers and designers envisioned an exhibit that would uniquely grab the attention of visitors—spawning the development of several activities. Some of these activities include a vintage 1940s-era radio that you can tune to World War II broadcasts;  J.A. Express, which is a video montage encapsulating several decades of Japanese American pre-War history into 180 seconds; and an “only what you can carry” chamber, which emulates the urgency facing families who were forced to  pack their lives into a single suitcase in preparation for removal as President Roosevelt decreed in Executive Order 9066.

The exhibition team genuinely wanted to consider how our visitors would react to X-Lab. In order to capture these reactions, we installed a large touchscreen iMac–equipped with a webcam and a microphone. This was used to record visitor responses to our thought-provoking questions, such as:

“Imagine if the government suspected you of being disloyal, how would you respond?”

http://www.youtube.com/user/janmdotorg#p/c/BACC8700A9E554FE/0/wEwQmqlg6xk

View more Xlab visitor videos >>

Xploration LabXploration Lab
Through June 12, 2011
Japanese American National Museum

 

For anyone who’s been through X-Lab, what was your favorite activity?