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Yellow Bowl Gila River 2

Below right, the “Yellow Bowl Project” installation at the site of a former internment camp in Gila River, Ariz.

Campus Focuses on Immigration with ‘Yellow Bowl Project’

09/20/17

Yellow Bowl Gila RiverThe College’s downtown art gallery, MCLA Gallery 51, will collaborate this fall with several academic departments for a new art exhibition that explores issues of immigration and racism in America.

“Freedom from Fear/Yellow Bowl Project,” a solo exhibition by Setsuko Winchester, will open in the Gallery on Thursday, Sept. 28, when multiple departments across the campus will engage faculty and students alike in a variety of examinations that revolve around the show.

“Yellow Bowl Project” is intended to bring awareness of the forced removal of 120,000 Japanese-Americans to 10 internment camps in the American West, during World War II. To accomplish this, Winchester created 120 yellow tea bowls, which she then photographed in installations at each of the camp sites.

According to Dr. Cynthia F. Brown, vice president of academic affairs, the “Yellow Bowl Project” provides a rich context for discussion of a number of historical, social and policy issues that are as relevant today as they were when the internments took place in the 1940s.

“Art can raise profound and important questions for us to consider, perhaps revealing perspectives or ideas that are new to us, even if the subject material is already known,” said Dr. Anthony Daly, associate professor of history, whose students will participate in the interdisciplinary collaboration.

“Setsuko Winchester’s project allows us to approach the topic from several angles and draw attention to the historical precedent of the WWII internment camps,” explained Michelle Daly, director of MCLA’s Berkshire Cultural Resource Center (BCRC). “Winchester draws attention to this past, aesthetically and contextually, and gives us an opportunity to explore the topic through the exhibition at the Gallery and through a series of related programs.”

Winchester will visit MCLA’s classrooms and work with students throughout the exhibition for a deeper exploration into the subject matter and themes of her project.

“I believe that the involvement of so many parts of the MCLA community with this exhibit is an example of the strengths of a liberal arts education – drawing in different disciplines to encourage and foster thoughtful, intelligent analysis,” Anthony Daly said.

“What excites me the most,” Michelle Daly added, “is that there are so many avenues of discovery with the project, and that it speaks to a very specific historical moment, but also has so many contemporary concerns.”  

Born in New York City, N.Y., to Japanese immigrant parents, Winchester has worked as a journalist, editor and producer at National Public Radio (NPR) on shows like “Morning Edition” and “Talk of the Nation.”

Related activities will include an artist talk on Thursday, Oct. 12, in the Gallery. On Oct. 26, MCLA faculty and students will share selections from an interdisciplinary collection of essays to be published in association with the exhibition.

The public also is invited to join a roundtable discussion on Tuesday, Nov. 14, at 7 p.m. in Murdock Hall, in the Sammer Dennis Room (218), which will explore the themes of the exhibition, and focus on the parallels between the executive order signed by President Franklin Roosevelt in 1942 and recent immigration orders signed by President Donald Trump.

These public- and student-focused activities are presented with support from the BCRC, the MCLA Offices of Academic Affairs, and the departments of English/Communications, Fine and Performing Arts (Arts Management), History, Political Science and Public Policy. For more information, (413) 662-5253.