In 1942, more than 100,000 Japanese-Americans were rounded up by government troops, divested of all their property and sent to ten different “relocation areas” scattered across the country by authority of Executive Order 9066. Among them was nine-year old Arthur Towata, along with his parents and siblings, who were sent to Manzanar, a camp near the Sierra Nevada Mountains in California. Towata’s three years in government custody were spent living in a tar-paper barracks, creating games with rocks and other found objects and admiring the mountains. And then the camps were closed, Towata grew up, served in the Air Force, became an artist and tried to put Manzanar behind him. It wasn’t until Towata returned to the camp in 2006 that he realized how Manzanar had remained hidden inside him all these years; his ceramic work, sturdy vessels with rugged, distressed glazes, mirrored the harsh terrain surrounding the camp. This revelation prompted Towata to create Echoes from Manzanar: If Walls Could Talk, an exhibit of his paintings and ceramics that serves as a tribute to the Japanese-American families incarcerated during the war. Echoes from Manzanar: If Walls Could Talk opens with a free public reception from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Friday, August 29, at the Regional Arts Commission (6128 Delmar Boulevard; 314-863-5811 or www.art-stl.org). The show remains up through Sunday, October 12.
Aug. 29-Oct. 12, 2008

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