One location, three photographers and more than 11,000 people are the subjects of the newest exhibition opening Saturday, August 21, 2021, at the Upcountry History Museum, a Smithsonian affiliate. Manzanar: The Wartime Photographs of Ansel Adams features authentic images by renowned photographer Adams, recognized social justice photographer Dorothea Lange, and Toyo Miyatake, a Japanese American photographer interned at Manzanar, a World War II relocation camp built in 1942 to detain all Americans of Japanese ancestry after the attack on Pearl Harbor.
This distinctive display of images, posters, publications, and artifacts provides a poignant and critical record of the daily life of Japanese American citizens at Manzanar Relocation Center northeast of Los Angeles during a dark period in America’s history. Adams’ photographs give an intimate look at camp life through portraits and images depicting scenes of everyday activities such as a baseball game or children going to school. Conversely, Lange captured expressions of resigned compliance to the relocation of entire families and the living conditions they endured. Miyatake, a Los Angeles photographer before being forced to Manzanar, used his hand-built camera to also provide an intimate examination of camp life but supplemented it with snapshots of silent protest by framing subjects behind the barbed wire fence, for example.
Manzanar presents a visual narrative that offers an intricate look at complex events and multifaceted outcomes of experiences based on fear, prejudice, perseverance, and dignity. By examining a moment in time when 120,000 Japanese American citizens were denied their freedom and rights due to ancestry, this collective record of what life was like for Manzanar’s more than 11,000 men, women and children forced to bear the conditions for four years presents an engaging opportunity to facilitate meaningful discussion and education.
On display through October 31, 2021, this exhibition was organized by the Photographic Traveling Exhibitions, Los Angeles, CA, and is supported, in part, by The Japan Foundation Center for Global Partnership, the Japan-America Association of South Carolina, and AFL Telecommunications, LLC.
The Upcountry History Museum is located at 540 Buncombe St., in Greenville, S.C. Hours of operation are Tuesday through Saturday from 10:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. and Sunday from 1:00 – 5:00 p.m. For more information, call 864-467-3100 or visit www.upcountryhistory.org.