In early 1942 President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066, authorizing the allocation of certain areas as military zones. As a result of that order, over 120,000 people of Japanese ancestry were removed from their West Coast homes, regardless of loyalty or citizenship, and involuntarily held in one of ten internment camps across the United States.
The largest of these camps, the Colorado River Relocation Center, was located in Poston, Arizona. My family resided there in Camp II, Block 216. Hiromi Shigemoto, my father, was born in the camp in 1943. He lived in the camp along with his parents and seven of his siblings 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 follow. In this series I have altered family photographs in an examination of the atrocities that infringed upon the lives of thousands of Japanese Americans during World War II. This work, which is rooted in my fascination with my Japanese heritage, gives expression to the missed connections caused by the cultural disparity between my childhood and my father’s early years.
Drawing on my interest in a culture and an event in history unfamiliar to me, I have created a body of work that encompasses the feelings of detachment that today are an intrinsic part of me.