Purple Moon Dance Project to perform at the Arkansas Art Center

In a special collaboration, emerging within the gallery installation, Purple Moon Dance Project and Artistic Director Jill Togawa will present When Dreams Are
Interrupted, a riveting site-specific performance that uncovers the profound imprint left on a neighborhood by the forced removal and mass evacuation of
Japanese American communities in 1942. Dancers Jill Togawa, Ruth Ichinaga and Sharon Sato will explore and infuse with the Tag Project to draw out the
stories and memories amassed by artist Wendy Maruyama and to highlight local history and stories.

Please click on this link for more information and tickets.

movieDate: february 19, 1942

Scenes from Topaz. Filmed illegally by David Tatsuno with a smuggled film camera.



ON THIS DAY in 1942, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed Executive Order #9066, allowing the U.S. military to relocate Japanese-Americans to internment camps. Subsequent events were documented in the 1945 film, TOPAZ, filmed (illegally) at Topaz, Utah, Relocation Center by Dave Tatsuno.

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ImageImageExecutive Order 9066 opened on February 7 at the Arkansas Art Center in Little Rock.
The choice of Arkansas as an exhibition venue was supremely important to me because there were two internment camps in the state (Rohwer and Jerome), just within 100 miles of Little Rock.
I was awestruck by Brian Lang’s artful installation of the exhibition: the red walls referred to red inks of the tags, and the lighting and distribution of the tag groupings worked beautifully in their space.  Most importantly, this exhibition marks the very first time that Executive Order 9066 has been shown together in its entirety.   ImageImageImageImageImage
Attendees of this exhibition will be in for a real treat:  the Arts Center has collaborated with the Butler Center for Arkansas Studies and the Arkansas Center for History and Culture to organize Relics of Rohwer: Gaman and the Art of Perseverance, a related exhibition documenting the experiences and artwork of Japanese Americans at Rohwer, one of two internment camps located in Arkansas.
The fabulous artwork is on loan from the Mabel Rose Jamison Vogel/Rosalie Santine Gould Collection, Butler Center for Arkansas Studies, Central Arkansas Library System.
All photos on this page are by Cindy Momchilov.
Wendy Maruyama & Edward Weston Member Party Invite_Page_1

The Tag Project at the Old Globe Theatre

In conjunction with the new musical “Allegiance,” which ran at The Old Globe last Fall, a portion of The Tag Project was on view in the theater’s lobby.  A related exhibition of objects from the internment camps, organized by the Japanese American Historical Society of San Diego, will be on view at the Museum of Man Annex, next to the Globe.  

Tule LakeHeart Mountain and Poston were chosen for this particular installation:  the incarceration camps, Tule Lake and Heart Mountain are at the center and settings of the musical itself.  Most of the Japanese Americans who lived in San Diego were sent to Poston –  and its presence in the exhibition honors the fact that “Allegiance” opened in our fair city.

The Tag Project was viewed 45 minutes before each performance of “Allegiance,” from September 25th through October 21 at The Old Globe in Balboa Park.


The Purple Moon Dance Project, based in San Francisco, performed during a closing event at the University Art Gallery on April 28th, 2012.  Many thanks to Jill Shiraki, Jill Guillermo Togawa, Sharon Sato, Ruth Ichinaga, Pauline Guillermo Togawa, Joyce Teague, and Mich Himaka for their participation in this wonderful performance.  And, a special thanks to Xavier for filming the event.

The Tag Project

This project was begun as part of my research on Executive Order 9066: it is the first time I made the personal decision to really look at this sorry chapter in history as a Japanese American artist. I plan to focus on this direction in my work for the next few years.

“The Tag Project” was started in New York, while I was an artist-in-residence at SUNY Purchase.  I was inspired by the thousands of folded origami cranes I saw 12 years before at the Hiroshima Peace memorial. I was also deeply moved by the photos of Dorothea Lange, one is shown above: it was her photos that initially provided the physical and emotional weight of the internment, and how it so profoundly affected the Japanese American citizens during and for years to come. All Japanese Americans from the West Coast were rounded up in 1942 and each were issued a tag and an ID number designating their destination: one of several internment camps, all in desolate deserted areas of the United States. The most haunting and striking photos were of the families wearing tags at the various assembly centers before being shipped off by train to these remote areas.ImageImageImageImageImageImageImage

I was taken by the physical weight of these tags when they were completed and hung, despite appearing to be light and airy. This struck me as being very relevant to the way the internment was perceived by the general American Public. To this day it shocks me to still run into fellow Americans who had no clue that this had happened. It was necessary to make all 120,000 tags, to represent every Japanese American who was sent to the ten major camps. I feel that the sheer numbers and the scale of these tags will convey to all who view this that the internment was a massive project that was to affect an entire culture of people and their future generations.

Obviously this was a huge undertaking. I knew that this will take a community to make happen, but will provide a way for others to meet each other, work together, and share stories. I started out by to asking friends, artists and family to help – and in turn these friends have asked others to help. Some were internees and have shared their stories. Some know the same friends that my parents know. I have also reconnected with folks that I have not seen since I was a child, who have volunteered their help.

To reach out to an extended community I attended internment camp pilgrimages, talked to people, and asked them to spread the word that I am working on this collaborative piece.  Suddenly I was receiving invitations to host the Tag Project events at various sites: Buddhist Temples, high schools, churches, colleges, and art centers.  The Tag Project traveled to Washington DC, Tennessee, Wisconsin, Maryland, various points in Californa, and I sent kits to volunteers from over half the states, including Hawaii.

The Tag Project was greatly supported, in spirit, by the Japanese American Historical Society of San Diego.  The JAHSSD currently houses artifacts, interviews, newspaper clippings and other archival materials about the Japanese Americans in San Diego.   Linda Canada is the archivist of JAHSSD. She can be reached at (858) 505-9020 or atJAHSSD@sbcglobal.net.    The JAHSSD is a non-profit organization, supported by a membership of over 500 individuals.  The organization sends out a monthly newsletter called “Footprints” and is edited by Joyce Nabeta Teague.


I designed a rubber stamp that replicates the text on the original tags – each of these tags are stamped, then names are written on each tag – I have seen two different examples of tags from archival materials – some were typewritten and others were handwritten. I feel that the handwritten tags gave the sense of the human connection, and the process of writing the names brings a sense of connection to the person whose name you are writing.

I ordered a big box of red ink pads and numbering stamps and volunteers helped stamp each individual number on these tags.

Finally the tags go through an aging process that requires them to be dunked in coffee or tea and then strung together with red thread.


There are a total of ten groupings of tags – each group represents and is named after each of the ten major Internment Camps – the population of each of these camps varied from 5,000 to 20,000 individuals.  The tags cascade from a steel ring and are strung together with red cord.  Each grouping is approximately 11′ tall, and the diameters of these groups vary from 3′ to 4/12′ wide.  The largest groupings weigh approximately 150 pounds.    The steel rings are suspended from steel cable, which gives the appearance that each group hovers, or levitates on its own.  They all look like large looming ghost-like figures and they slowly rotate or move with the slightest breeze. 




Forced to carry on their lives under harsh weather conditions and unfamiliar surroundings, the exiles took up residence in the internment camps. Leaving behind their homes and businesses, they were scattered all over the interior West in isolated desert areas. The Japanese-descent evacuees left behind an estimated $200,000,000 worth of real, commercial, and personal property. While the WRA was a mediator for the evacuees in that regard, their properties and personal items were sold for much lesser value, and they suffered great financial losses.Image


The ten “relocation centers” were located in:

  • Amache, Colorado
  • Gila River, Arizona
  • Heart Mountain, Wyoming
  • Jerome, Arkansas
  • Manzanar, California
  • Minidoka, Idaho
  • Poston, Arizona
  • Rohwer, Arkansas
  • Topaz, Utah
  • Tule Lake, CaliforniaImage

The 10 “relocation centers” resembled prisons with poor food, cramped quarters, and communal facilities. The housing provided was tarpaper covered barracks without plumbing or cooking facilities. A family of five or six occupied a single room of 25 by 20 feet. A bath, laundry and toilet building was shared by more than 250 people. 

The War Relocation Authority (WRA) was created as a civilian agency responsible for assisting the internees to become acclimated to their new way of life. It was hoped as well that a considerable number of residents would eventually move out of restricted areas and resettle inland of their own initiative. About 8,000 were allowed to move; however, mounting resistance and hostility in surrounding communities, plus the general uncertainty of the war, caused all further voluntary relocation to be halted by the Western Defense Command.

Despite the fact that most residents were U.S. citizens, many of them buying war bonds and making significant donations to the American Red Cross, they were now denied the right to become U.S. citizens.

Internal security was maintained at each center with a resident “special police force” headed by a non-internee chief, while the exterior boundaries were guarded by military police. One of the most infamous camps was located in Tule Lake, California. There the detainees held frequent demonstrations and strikes demanding their rights under the U.S. Constitution. As a result, it became a “segregation camp,” where other camp internees were sent for refusing to take the loyalty oath, or had been known to cause disturbances within their original camps. At its peak, the Tule Lake camp held 18,789 non-compliant detainees.

Most residents of the relocation centers, never being found guilty of any such wrongful acts or intentions, were merely a group of American citizens of Japanese ancestry who happened to be living in a potential combat zone.


The Tag Project: It takes a community.

The Tag Project has taken on a life of its own, turning into an adventure borne out of art, community, volunteerism, activism, advocacy, and education.  I have never worked on a “community project” before and what made this project so special for me is that this project BECAME a community project on its own.  It evolved, grew, and was nurtured by many.

When we first started, it was mostly a few friends and students helping me out with 25 tags.  Then at family gatherings, we’d all be sitting around the dining table, stamping, writing and numbering tags.  Soon I was shipping out kits to volunteers all across the country, to people I had never met before!  Then The Tag Project was invited by various organizations, such as college groups, high school classes, churches, temples, and art organizations to host events where volunteers would come and work on the tags.  My two year goal was met but not without the help of all of these people and organizations.  You may note that when I speak of The Tag Project, I always speak in terms of “we”, or “us”, or “ours”.  The Tag Project belongs to all the fabulous volunteers and supporters.



Valerie Abe
Verna Abe
Jenn Anderson
Carrie Andreson – Manzanar Historical Site
Hayami Arakawa
Roy and Alice Asaki
Bryan Baldwin
Jerome Baldwin
Lill Barton
Margo Bebinger
Judith Bender
Sharon Black
Beverly Buehner
Lyle Boatman and Alberto Cortes
Jon Bonser
Kristen Bonser
Bif Brigman
Barbara Broadwell 
Dale Broholm
Terri Bryson
Buddhist Temple San Diego
Olaitan Callendar-Scott
Linda Canada
Alexandria Carrion
Miriam Carpenter
Leslie Casey
Jorge ChanG
Monica Chau

Ron Chun and Family
Tim Clark
Kathy Clenney
Joyce Corpuz
Gabby Kubo Dannemiller
Glen Date
MaryJean Date
Marc D’Estout
Jessica Dombrowski
Mary Donald
Steffanie Dotson and Alec Holcman
Henry Drewal and Sarah Kahn
Fran Ellis
Vicki Endow
Allison Endow
Al Endow
Christine Enos
Carol Estes
Jeremy Estil
Chris and Diane Feddersohn
Arline Fisch
LaBelle Fischl
Dennis FitzGerald
J. Michael Floyd
Logan Five
Terri Fong
Nancy Ford
Amy Forsythe
Franklin High School, Los Angeles
Doreen Fujii
Jasmine Kiyomura Fujii
Staci Kiyomura Fujii
Jonathan Fujimura
Coreen Fujinami
Trisha Fujinami
Bruce Fujinami
Leann Fujinami
Rachel Fuld
Dave and Kate Furukawa
David and Natchi Furukawa
Laura Furukawa
Marian Furukawa
Nicki Furukawa
Tooru and Mieko Furukawa
Duncan Gowdy and Elizabeth Siler
Jo and Juan Green
Michiko Grosvenor
Judy Gust
Larry and LaBelle Haeger
Jun Hanamoto
Bonnie Harkins
Julie Harris
Kristin Hashimoto
Susan Hasegawa
Grace Hauseur
Krystal Hauseur
Joanne Hayakawa
Lee Hayashi
Matthew Hebert and Lara Braff
Laura Henschen
Heidi Hester and Chris Ono
Jenny Higashi
Grace Honda
Wayne Hosaka and Kathleen Fabry
Erin Hutton
Chiz Imoto
Robert Ito
Miki Iwasaki
Therese James
The James Renwick Alliance, and the Renwick Gallery/Smithsonian Institute
Japanese American Historical Society San Diego
Japanese American National Museum Volunteer/Docents – Lee Hayashi
Gary Jio
Tami Joplin
Kirby Jones
Will Kaku
LaurenKawakami                                                                                                                         Trace and Mildred Kawasaki
Jerry Kamei
Sumi Kastelic
Martin Katz
Sakie Takahara Kawakawa
Mitsuko Kawamoto
Yuki Kawamoto
Umeko Kawamoto
Bree Keaveney
Mary Sue Kern
Cindy Kitade
Dot Kimura
Jim Kimura
Rebecca Kinder
Dianne Kiyomoto
Edward Kobayashi
Yuri Kobayashi
Fred Kochi
Debra Kodama
Garrett Kodama
Mari Koudi
AJ Koudi
Keiko Kubo
Doris Kuwada Kunimura
Sharon Kunugi
Kelsey Lamberto
Martha Lathrop
Annette Lau
Bob Leathers
Chris Lee
Rachelle Lim
Mary Little
Linda Muroi
Adam Manley and Amertah Perlman
Karen Maruyama
Laurie Maruyama
John and Reiko Maruyama
Heath Matysek-Snyder
Yuki Mathias (Tule Lake Pilgrimage)
Gail Schneider Matlin
Lori Matoba-Wun
Mary Matsunaga
Mary Oda Matsuoka
Heather McCalla
Ingrid Menken
Terry Mirashiro-Sonoda
Ken and Judy Miyamoto
Tosh Miyashita
Tara K. Mochizuki
Molly Momii
Gwen Momita
Alan Momohara
Emily Momohara
Kiku Mori
Susan Moribe
Beverly Morisako
Noel Myers
Chizu Nagano
Sam and Pauline Nakamura
Susan Nakamura
Patty Nakamura
Reiko Nakamura
Wendy Nakamura
Chizu Nagao
Anne Nakahiro
Terry Nakahiro
Andrea Nakano
Mira Nakashima
David Nesmith
Cheryl Nickle
Sachi Nishida
Yoshio Nishimoto
June Noda
Jill Oda
Amy Okamura
Malia Okamura
Melvin Okamura
Yas and Jim Okazaki
Karen Okuhara
Roy Okuhara
Shirly Omori
Gary Ono
Momii Palapaz
Chulyeon Park
Todd Partridge
DiAnne Patrick
William Peters and Guy Stiles
Amerta Perman and Adam Manley
Pioneer Ocean View United Church of Christ, San Diego
Poway High School – AVID Program 
Jami Primmer
Dean Pulver
Richard Rachel
Lani Reifenrath
Karl Renz
David Richardson
Tedi Romero
Bird Ross
Gwynne Rukenbrod
San Diego High School
San Diego JACL
San Diego Japanese Christian Church
Ami Sanders
Lean Sanders
Jared Sanders
Shelly Sanders
Betty Santohigashi
Shun Santohigashi
Lill Sasaki
Steve Sato
Reid Schoonover
Bill Schairer
Cathy Schairer
Michelle Session
Roy and Sachi Shibata
Janice Shigehara
Jane Shigeta
Fusa Shimizu
Jamie Shimizu
Roger Shimomura (Minidoka Pilgrimage)
Jeannette Shin
Kimberly Shintaku
Amy Shinzaki
Dylan Shinzaki
Karen Shinzaki
Helen Shirk
Jane Shirk
Noah Shirk
Yone Shiwotsuka
Bob Sims
Libby Sinclair
Joshua Smith
Susan Smithey
Thomasina Stancil
Deborah and Bill Stern
Chris Steussy and Norma Pizarro
Connie (Hatsuko) Yahiro Stricklen
Roy Sumino
Masao Suzuki
Naoko Suzuki
Marie Switkes
Tom and Mitsy (Kiyomura)Takeoka
Janet Takahashi
Amy Takahashi
Steven Takahashi
Amy Takahashi
Edith Takeshita
Ruth Takeshita
Ramona Tamiyasu
Karen Tani
Joyce Teague
Tennessee Technological University, Cookeville, TN
Rachel Saelid
Cassidy Duckett
Jordan Frye
Daniel Hassler
Billy George
Jordan Kear
Ryan Pate
Ellen Kleckner
Carey Harding
Daniel Bell
Miles Koester
Mike Linsten
Mirrah Johnson
Sydney Ray
Andrew Thompson
Tyler Reagan
Katie Svendson
Chris Mayville
Christian Gibbs
Robert Bruce
Jodie Masterson
Lucas Barker
Bree Beliles
Kelsea Gilliland
Timber Powell
Michael Floyd
Rachel Clark
Judith Sullivan
Kathryn Forbes
Chris Bogle
Kimberly Winkle
Graham Campbell
Sam Terasaki
Judy Teshima
Susan Thompson
Leslie Tiano
James Tiffany
Mits Tomita
Aki Tomiyama
Ginger Tuholski
Noreen Tuholski
Andrew Tuholski
Mariah Tuttle 
UCLA Nikkei Student Union (Beth Uno, Edward Kobayashi and Miki Koga)
UC Riverside Asian Pacific Student Programs
Georgiana Uda
Taeko and Tom Udo
Yas Umeda
Massie (Horiuchi) Uyeda
Xavier Vasquez
Marcela Villasenor
Ruth U. Voorhies
Carol Van Heerden
Betty Walker
Beth Wallace
Lori Walton
Hanako Wakatsuki
Alicia Watanabe
Doug Watters
Charleen Weidell
Tracy Wells
Judy Wilkinson
Kim Winkle and Graham Campbell
Shuyi Wong
D Wood
Efton Woodford
Ben Wooten
Alisa Wright
Chris Wright
Karie Wright
Nick Wu
Shigeru Yabu
Jane Yagade
Fumie Yahiro
Martin Yahiro and crew in Maryland!
Janet Yahiro
Jennifer Yahiro
Liz and Joe Yamada
Keith Yamaguchi
June Yamamoto
Peter Yamamoto
Yuki Yamashita
Stella Yee
Vernone Yoshioka
Christine Yoshioka
Judy Zinn Dedek
Ollie Zinn