In early 1942, President Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066, authorizing the allocation of certain areas as military zones. As a result, over 120,000 people of Japanese ancestry were removed from their West Coast homes and, regardless of loyalty or citizenship, involuntarily held in one of ten internment camps located across the United States.
The largest of these camps, the Colorado River Relocation Center, was located in Poston, Arizona. My family resided in Camp II Block 216. Hiromi Shigemoto, my father, was born in the camp in 1943. He, along with his parents and seven of his siblings, lived in the camp until it closed in 1945.
After I was born, my nuclear family moved to Texas from California, leaving behind my extended family and with them the chance to fully experience the traditions they practice. In this series, I alter family photographs in an examination of the atrocities infringed upon the lives of the thousands of Japanese Americans during World War II. This work, which is rooted in my fascination with my Japanese heritage, expresses the missed connections caused by the cultural disparity between my childhood and my father’s.
I combine my interest in a culture and an event unfamiliar to me in order to create a body of work that encompasses the feelings of detachment from something that is an intrinsic part of me.