Exhibit shares family stories of the Japanese American Internment during WWII

May 30, 2018
Courtesy of: Schack Art Center "All American Boy", Chris Hopkins, Oil on canvas

Schack Art Center will feature the work of Everett artists Jan and Chris Hopkins in the exhibit, “Americans Interned: A Family's Story of Social Injustice” from June 14 to Sept. 1.

The artwork created for this exhibit highlights personal stories of the effects of Executive Order 9066, which authorized the eviction of Japanese Americans from the West Coast during World War II.

Jan Hopkins is a renowned basketry and sculptural-fiber artist working with unconventional natural materials. Her work is exhibited in galleries and private collections across the country. Her husband, Chris Hopkins, enjoyed a high-profile career designing, drawing and painting images for movie promotions in Hollywood, before focusing on works that celebrate compelling stories of American perseverance.

Their recent endeavor was inspired by Jan's desire to learn more about her cultural identity. As a child of interned Japanese Americans, there was a lack of knowledge concerning her heritage or the ordeal her family endured.

Together Chris and Jan began a project to tell the story of the WWII Japanese American Internment Camps, intertwining the personal story of Jan's parents, who met at Camp Harmony, a temporary processing facility at the Puyallup Fairgrounds. Piece by piece, they have created a visual narrative that is both heartbreaking and inspiring.

The exhibit features 34 oil paintings, Sumi ink block prints and graphite drawings, in which Chris details the alienation and loss that characterized the Japanese American Internment, as well as the patriotism and resilience many chose to embrace.

These pieces are complemented by Jan's figurative sculptures and mixed media works inspired by recently learned family stories. “Out of the Mouths of Babes,” for example, illustrates a story told by her mom about her brothers, who were born shortly after the war. At the ages of 8 and 10 while playing, their friend called out, "Hey, let's play war. You can be the Japs." Confused at the thought of being the enemy, her brother ran home and asked, "Delbert said I'm a Jap. I'm not a Jap, am I?" Taken back by his question, their mom replied in a quiet voice, "You are Japanese American."

“Americans Interned” coincides with a retrospective show of Jan and Chris Hopkin's work in the mezzanine gallery in honor of their selection as 2018 Schack Art Center Artists of the Year.

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